Quotes From Around The Blogosphere
There's been so much talk in the last few weeks about which major American city will be the first without a newspaper, with a lot of the focus in San Francisco or maybe now in Chicago where both papers are now in Chapter 11. Just like here but with two owners instead of one. What would No-Newspaper Town USA look like? No one knows, but here in Philadelphia we've seen a couple of peeks:
The bad: This is kind of stale now, so I won't dwell on it, but a couple of weeks ago did you see how see how Eagles' coach Andy Reid came to break his long silence on the departure of defensive stalwart Brian Dawkins? He submitted himself to a probing interview . . . on the Eagles' own team Web site. Frankly, the interview could have been worse, but you see where this is heading. Sports teams, big corporations like Comcast, City Hall or even the White House -- all of these people are going to be getting their story out directly to you, without the jaundiced eye of a skeptical journalist as a middleman trying to cut through the spin (even though that often goes bad: See Iraq, 2002-03). Even so, these pseudo-stories like the Reid interview will be 100 percent spin, and nothing but.The good: New Media fanatics believe that other kinds of journalism will rise up to replace newspapers, and some of may be even better than what is produced now, because these sources of news will be more closely rooted in the local communities where news happens. Here's a case in point . . . [an] article reported and written by a Temple University student in their Urban Journalism Workshop, the kind of community-oriented hyperlocal effort that many experts hope will rise up even as traditional newsrooms shrink. It was a much more simple and on-the-ground approach to crime reporting than many big dailies -- who now have just enough resources to cover The Big Murder of the Day -- are able to undertake on a regular basis. Shannon McDonald simply rode around crime-plagued Strawberry Mansion and got a very provocative story [about police racism].
Is this a perfect Brave New World? Of course not. Who will pay Shannon McDonald a living wage to practice journalism when she graduates in May? I have not a clue. But I do think the Great Debate of Journalism is at the point of looking forward and not back, of how do we advance the good -- local reporting -- and how do we mitigate the bad and the ugly of corporate and political spin in a world that will look very different from the one we know.
-- WILL BUNCH
Leaders of the Philadelphia Newspaper Guild say that they're outraged that top executives of the Inquirer and Daily News received significant year-end bonuses, three months after convincing hundreds of union members to give up a $25-a-week raise.
-- BOB WARNERNewspaper advertising sales in 2008 fell by a record $7.5 billion, or 16.6%, according to yearend figures reported by the Newspaper Association of America.
Print and online ad sales for the industry last year totaled $37.8 billion, as compared with a bit less than $45.4 billion in 2007.
Sales declined at an accelerating pace in each quarter of 2008, tumbling nearly 20% in the last three months of the worst year in the history of the industry.
The industry has shed nearly $11.6 billion in sales since achieving its all-time peak of $49.4 billion in 2005. Thus, 23.2% of its revenue base was vaporized in just three years.-- NEWSOSAURThirty-seven percent of Americans favor federal government subsidies to keep newspapers in business, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Forty-three percent say it’s better to let the papers go out of business, and 20% are not sure what to do.You all know the joke (repeated in Annie Hall) about the two old ladies at the diner, where one says "The food here is terrible, I can barely eat it" and the other says "I agree, and the portions are so small!" That’s exactly how I feel about the New York Times. The paper can be unbearably pretentious, it employs MoDo and Frank Bruni, it botched its WMD reporting terribly, it created the whole Whitewater story out of whole cloth . . . and it makes me want to cry to think it might disappear!-- DOUG JCould this be a sign for the future? Not only giving readers news they want, but asking them which people they want to report it.
The Washington Post is taking reader choice to another level with an online competition to see who will be chosen its next fitness columnist. With one of the two writers who have jointly penned the "MisFits" column going to another assignment, editors are giving readers a hand in choosing the replacement.
-- JOE STRUPP
No subgenre of journalism deserves to be put out its misery more than the "trend story." Heavy on the breading and light on the catfish, the trend story is typically the work of young reporters whose editors don't care enough to smack them down, or older reporters who are simply unionized hacks. The trend story's evil is only surpassed by its wicked spawn--the "political trend story," a work which applies methodology reserved for light fare ("Stalking With Cougars: Giving New Meaning To Ladies Night!") to actual weighty issues. Like race:"As the nation's first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over."The political trend story stands out from its older sibling in how it reeks of condescension and bestows upon a lazy-ass writer the unearned privilege of drawing conclusions about millions of people based on a few interviews and a survey.
If General Motors goes under, there will still be cars. And if the New York Times disappears, there will still be news.