David Carr on the current state of printed newspapers:
Those of us who work inside the racket like to think of our business as unique, but with underfunded pension plans, unserviceable debt and legacy manufacturing processes and union agreements, the newspaper industry looks a lot like, well, steel, autos and textiles.
The bread and butter for most of the industry is local information. But it has become seemingly impossible to make money creating daily compendiums and throwing it on people’s doorsteps. Journatic, the content provider, proceeds from the bold premise that generating community news can function on a call-center model, where a staff unrelated by geography or affiliation will serve customer needs. The company allowed employees to gin up fake bylines to give the appearance of a connection.
And it’s not just newspapers. AOL’s ambitious local news effort, called Patch, has spent $150 million and is no closer to cracking the code.
We think of local journalism as an important moral force, a sign of a community’s strength and conscience. But as Carr lays out these current struggles it occurs to me that local journalism might just be a middleman, a reporter who sits between people involved in a story and people who want to hear about it. To play devil’s advocate: why do I need a reporter when I can read a tweet or post from the source itself? With this framing reporting isn’t as angelic. It appears as a filter that might prevent a real dialoge from occurring.
To prevent its demise should investigative journalism, still relevant for uncovering and explaining longer stories, be detached from “middleman” reporting of daily occurrences?
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- jedsundwall said: Yes. Voiceofsandiego.org takes this approach. They’re staunchly opposed to “dictation” of local events and focus solely on investigation and analysis. They’re awesome. Also, a member-funded non-profit.
- s-m-i said: Where are you going to find the source? Have you vetted it? Do you know what to look for? Do you know how to interpret that press release or SCOTUS ruling? It’s not just ‘being’ in the middle; it’s filtering and interpretation.
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