We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Television does not begin to fill it. To the extent broadcast networks ever tried they now have abdicated to so-called cable news channels. These, in turn, now devote most of their resources to covering celebrities, crimes and sundry social trivia and to prime-time programming that pretends to be analysis and informed opinion while mostly offering the spectacle of extremist heads yelling at each other. There are few resources and even less commitment to covering significant news beyond floods and fires.
The Internet is not filling news vacuums either. There are hundreds upon hundreds of online sites and blogs that claim to provide news, but virtually none of them even pretend to pursue the traditional news role of newspapers, which is to invest in professional staffs dispersed around a community and across the country or the globe to cover, analyze, and only then comment on, events. Actually, all they do is comment.
As to all the free online editions of our newspapers, their business model does not begin to cover the cost of significant news reporting. So the online editions with growing audiences—largely cannibalized from print audiences—rely on the poor print editions for almost all the news they give away. Sadly, there is less and less of that, and the ultimate loser, of course, is the public.
He is right. We are in a time when new paradigms are waiting to be born. (However, his WSJ is still doing fine.) The new paradigm we do not want is this one. The very idea is sick sick sick.
I believe that some news outlets should band together and form a non-profit news organization.
They should have a strict "constitution" mandating certain things, such as no coverage of entertainment "news", no personality news, equal access on TV, radio, internet and print. I could elucidate further, but it's meaningless.
The Christian Science Monitor used to do a great job with this stuff, but today they're 100% online - and so many people think they are a religious paper, though they're not.
It's a damn shame the newspapers are dying. Most are dying due to the weight of their bias, though.
Rick ... Part of the reason mainstream newspapers are dying is the failure of such news suppliers as the Associated Press to supply accurate raw news material. The scandals last year about the so-called reporters for various stateside newspapers sitting in the Green Zone and paying various 'stringers' from the populations the reporters were supposed to be observing, to collect obviously biased news items and disseminate them to Western newspapers is part of the scandal. The notorious Green Helmet man, and the Iraqi old lady weeping in front of three separate apartment buildings, and the retouched photos of ambulances and bomb sites leap to mind as examples of poor, inaccurate reporting. The only trustworthy reporting being done on the Iraq War and the Afganistan conflict is being done by such civilian heroes as Michael Yon and Bill Roggio, and they had to finance themselves by their own money plus private donations. And no print newspaper is disseminating their reports.
So I tend to feel that if the mainstream newspapers are dying, they deserve to. They've deserted their audiences, so we deserted them. Quid pro quo.
I don't disagree - and I tangentially mention this when I commented on bias.
I work in media, and spent a few years working with different TV news organizations. Most are poorly run, heavily biased, but huge moneymakers (thanks to the changes made in the 80's by Cap Cities, which led to a change in the way news was viewed by networks).
Anyway, the point is that the changes in network news has had a huge impact on print, just as online has had a huge impact on network news and print. In other words, print is generally under attack from all sides. But there's a place for it - just as there is a place for every media. The question is this: what place, and how do you fund it?
Profitable print news outlets are a thing of the past. This is going to be a non-starter. But perhaps a non-profit arrangement can be set up that can be ACTUAL news (rather than this fluff with entertainment and such) and analysis.
Another thing worth noting - many people are upset that outlets like Fox (WSJ, etc.) may start charging for online news. I have no problem with that. If I like a certain outlet's news, I would pay for it. I used to get the NYTimes delivered until they became too outlandishly biased. Then I cancelled (this was about 5-6 years ago). The day I read a REAL ESTATE article which focussed on some dumb liberal who wanted to leave the United States because "George Bush could cause WWIII or a nuclear holocaust" (yes, seriously - this was in a real estate article about people leaving the US if Bush won in 2004)...that's when I knew the New York Times was irretrievably biased and doomed and cancelled my subscription.
The stuff you mention I knew about because I was working at another news organization during most of the Iraq War....so we all heard these stories before they went public.
But it's just a damn shame. I loved reading the paper. I wish I could still do that today.
Marianne, I firmly agree with you. When our papers started taking every word a press agent said as "The Truth," and then it turned out to be spin, my faith in the industry went away. Why buy it.
When I went to J-school, there was a HUGE difference between hard news and editorial opinion. That's not been so for many years...and the biggest problem is that the reader doesn't have the education to realize it. Also, they only get the news from sources that copycat one another.
In our local papers, a substantial number of "news" stories are just repackaged press releases that have been sent in by various special interest groups that of course have put their own spin on the story. The editor/"assigned reporter" will move things around here and there and then put the reporter's name on the byline, but there is no real vetting against the facts. They don't have the staff, time or money.
I always find it humorous when both dailies put out the same story, both of which obviously come from the same source, down to having the same identical quotes and supposedly interviewed sources, and then each has its own reporter's name as having written the story.
I have subscribed to the WSJ.com website for years and find its worth the money. My local newspaper which I read for 25 years has gotten worse and worse and a couple years ago I cancelled and don't miss it. They had gotten to the point where most of the news was from the wire services including yesterday's WSJ. Local coverage was just blood and guts type stories. I am willing to pay for content and would suspect so are others.
I don't know where the notion arose that newspapers (journalists) ever attempted to "cover, analyze, and only then comment on, events."
My experience is that all newspapers had a clear and purposeful bias, generally reflected on their "opinion" page(s), but apparent from the slant given to the stories in their "coverage" of the "events" that they chose to cover and those they chose NOT to cover. Their supposed "objectivity" was an intentional mirage, and, frankly, that false "objectivity" only existed for a scant few decades between the "yellow journalism" decades where the bias was out front for anyone to see (especially in hind-sight), and the clear liberal advocacy of today's newspapers (journalists).
We happily pay for a wsj online subscription, though we no longer pay for the print version. We dropped the NYT subscription more than a decade ago, and I don't think I've watched a broadcast news segment since 9/11. My local newspaper runs nothing but local fluff and warmed-over AP OpEd pieces disguised as news; I check it out online but stopped buying the print versions years ago. If they start charging for that trash, I'm gone.