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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The death of journalism

Everyone is bemoaning the death of all the newspapers. Frankly, I think it is a loss, but just as a counterargument, let's look at some of the journalism over the last decade. (Feel free to add to either list. These are just off the top of my head.)

Unquestioning into the Iraq war? Aluminum tubes? Embedded journalism? A role in swiftboating John Kerry? Not looking into the open rumors about John Edwards' affair? Happy talk/no investigative reporting on the economy/derivatives/Madoff? Guantanamo?

On the other side, a key role in forcing a response to Katrina? Walter Reed? Wiretapping?

I think it's a huge loss if the newspapers go away, but I don't think we should put on our rose colored eulogy glasses either. "Journalism" over the last decade has not been superlative.


  • I think newspapers should move to an online model for local news coverage, arts leisure, classifieds, weather, etc., and create a new weekly magazine based format for investigative reporting and real analysis pieces. So, online becomes headline news and breaking news, but print could still be preserved in some manner for the type of news that can't be investigated and understood merely by parroting WH press releases.

    By Blogger -epm, at 8:16 AM  

  • I think paper is too expensive and kinda dead. I'm an avid dogwalker, and in my neighborhood, we've gone from papers in every lawn to every third or fourth.

    And, they definitely need a new way to connect, because there is a demand for local stuff. Online would be logical, but nobody's really making it work yet.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 9:50 AM  

  • The media's handling of Katrina was hardly exemplary, IMO.

    It was the blogs that broke the story. As I recall, there was a small ISP that maintained a tenuous connection throughout and started "reporting" on the incidents of helicopters, etc being fired on by citizens, and of the grim situation at the evacuation points within the city. The blogs amplified it tremendously quickly, and the MSM was essentially forced to cover the situation.

    Prior to that, the MSM had been happy to just pass along press statements and interview Administration-supporting stooges.

    "And, they definitely need a new way to connect, because there is a demand for local stuff."

    I've always thought radio was an ideal medium for local news, especially when supplemented by the net for pictures, forums, archives, etc. Radio has none of the high production costs of TV and does not demand one's undivided attention the way that print or TV does. It's also low-tech, for those unwilling or unable to breach the digital divide. But how do you get any money from it, aside from the begging that public radio does?

    Realistically, I think local news will become a subscription service provided by cellphone companies in the future. It's the only way to get people to pay for it, because the cell provider controls all of the choke points.

    By Blogger Todd Dugdale, at 1:05 PM  

  • Yeah, to some degree. I should probably specifically cite the Times Picayune because they were amazing, staying operational, publishing online versions daily.

    And, the hitch with "local" stuff is that everybody is looking for something different. Some want local business, others want the crime and human interest stories, some want lifestyle, etc.

    Pro-radio, it's also easy/car consumption.

    However, local case, in Houston they have an all news local station that used to be pretty good, and then it started running the right wing radio syndicated guys, and the local coverage started to tilt because the audience was now stacked with those people who are alaso on the station for the Limbaugh's and Hannity's.

    So, during the Hurricane here, when radio was so critical because no one had power, we caught a very Republican tinged version of local. Republican governor Great. Every Bush admin action even greater. Even when Fema didn't come in for nearly 5 days. It was creepy.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 6:17 PM  

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