The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Journalists vs. bloggers

Woster over at Mt. Blogmore has a post about "professional journalists" breaking more news than the 3.5 percent that bloggers break.

Okay. So what? C'mon Kevin, the news day just wasn't that slow. Granted, I'm posting tired old blonde jokes. But as a professional journalist, and Woster is one, don't we wonder whatever happened to putting the most important news of the day on the front page, no matter how badly Post 22 may have beaten their latest opponent?

An Associated Press story about North Korea being suspected of hacking and shutting down websites in the U.S. and South Korea is less important than the identity of a shooting victim, a waitress suing a fraternal organization and a teen burglary suspect being charged as an adult.

The notion is that folks are getting their national and international news elsewhere and so local papers around the country are running more local news there, to emphasize that some things are not available on the 24-hour news networks. That may be, but newspaper devotees still expect their local daily to grade the news.

It's a chicken and egg situation: Would more readers spend more time with their newspaper than with cable news if the information contained in the newspaper was more accurate and in-depth? Or are the newspapers correct in thinking that we've all become too shallow to care enough about what's going on to read more in-depth reporting of the events that affect the world?

The reason the small, local daily newspaper should return to grading the news according to its importance to the world at large is because it is the right thing to do. There are some things people want to know and other things they NEED to know. That newspapers have forgotten this in their pursuit of new readers, may explain why they are failing to find them.


Bill Fleming said...

Good thoughts, Michael.

Maybe local newspapers need to become more like directories. It always amazes me when the RCJ acts like they're the only ad game in town. They're not. Not by a long shot.

And maybe they need to rethink their ad prices.

How does it make any sense to double your prices when your paid circulation just dropped by half?

Oh, I'm sure it works on paper, but...

Michael Sanborn said...

I remember a staff meeting years ago when David Sharp was publisher.

The meeting was to inform us all that there would be no Christmas party or Christmas bonuses and that cuts were on the way...

Advertising lineage was way down, he said. "But we're raising our prices as fast as we can."

Being the dumb news guy, I asked if he thought that was a good approach and maybe shouldn't we follow the advice each of our own ad reps tell our customers... which was advertising doesn't work unless there are deep discounts. Maybe we should have an advertising sale?

My comments were of course dismissed as having been advanced by a moron.

Bill Fleming said...

And yet, I wonder how many people read the RCJ on line for free?

Shouldn't they at least put their customers dead tree ads up on the net for free then?

What do they think? That people actually read their paper for the news? (wink)