Monday, December 04, 2006

Shooting From the Hip is Risky Business


Frank Ahrens writes about the changing newspaper business in a story entitled A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It’s Online and Hyper-Local in today’s Washington Post. Gannett’s stock dropped 25% and the chain realized that it had to address the problem which is facing many newspapers across the country.

With more and more people turning to alternative news sources, it seems a reasonable course to explore. In my own hometown of Montgomery, which has a Gannett newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, I have noticed the on-line changes to the reader forum, TalkAlabama, as well as news and other sections. Some are good like the videos you can find of local news and interviews. That’s a nice touch missing in the printed word. However, what is sorely lacking is attention to investigative stories. It’s almost as if we have a weekly community newspaper which is a fine type of journalism, but this is the capital city and there are bigger fish to fry.

The WaPo story focuses on the changes as they are happening at the Fort Myers News-Press. One of the most alarming changes to this old J school grad is that stories are being posted on-line before being edited. Every reporter needs that safety net. It’s all well and good to be innovative and daring, but I’m afraid shooting from the hip doesn’t work in international diplomacy or in the news business.

10 comments:

Naomi said...

This was an interesting post Sheila. Jeff Jarvis talks about the changing face of newspapers a lot on his blog, Buzz Machine. It seems that not many people read newspapers nowadays, with many preferring to read the news on blogs and news websites on the net.

Sheila said...

Thanks, Naomi.I used to subscribe to the local paper but now read it online. But someone still must collect, research and report the news. There will be a need for journalists of some kind.

Dirty Butter said...

I read the digest of the NYT to keep me current with the big stuff, and TV news for the local interest items. Other than that, all my news comes from blogs.

Sheila said...

Despite her chinks, the NYT is still the "paper of record." You are probably like a lot of others in how you get your news. This family of journalists watches and reads NBC & ABC Evening News, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Rolling Stone (Scott), the Chronicle of Higher Education, insidehighered.com, and others like Fancy Foods (daughter-in-law Natalie's mag). I find, however, that I am spending less and less time on the magazines.

I always feel it's best to get several sources rather than rely on any one. Credibility is definitely an issue these days.

Dirty Butter said...

And it's not enough to get several sources, either. If you're not careful, all your sources are owned by the same company!

Sheila said...

You are right. I forget who owns what but corporate ownership is an issue. I believe several radio stations in this town are all owned by the same company. Same thing with papers, etc. The Chicago Tribune bought out the LA Times and so on.

Don said...

Sheila, just a couple of remarks, if I may.

1. The Montgomery Advertiser lives up to its name in that it is comprised mostly of ads and syndicated news from sources such as AP. Investigative reporting is sadly lacking as it is in many so-called NEWS papers today. The Mobile Press-Register had a good investigative reporter until a few months ago, but he moved on to probably a more lucrative position. The Birmingham News has published several good investigative articles lately and The Huntsville Times recently added a reporter, Bob Lowry I think, to cover state government in Montgomery who may do likewise.
2. If you concentrate on getting your news from sources that favor just one side of the political spectrum, as the sources you named seem to be to me, you are not getting a balanced view.

Sheila said...

Thanks, Don for your comments. I am sorry to hear that the Mobile Press-Register lost the reporter you are talking about if he was the one doing those in-depth stories. I just think it's a shame for the capital city's daily not to have better and more investigative reporting.

I listed only a few of my sources. I listen to Fox News at times but in no way think it is "fair and balanced," C-Span, Rush Limbaugh when I can tolerate him, Sunday morning news shows like Bob Schieffer's show, 60 Minutes but not Katie Couric, Washington Times on occasion, Wall Street Journal and various and sundry sources. I'm pretty much at at overload with news at times. This month I'm focusing on trival or sentimental stuff and I don't know how this serious post slipped in. I think it was my alter-ego Oxana from Kazakhstan's doing.

Don said...

Sheila, considering the additional sources you listed you're a more (don't take this the wrong way and let it spoil your day) well-rounded reader than I am, and most other people as well.

Sheila said...

Don, Don't get me wrong. I don't read or watch all of the sources I mentioned all of the time. I do have a life and in fact, I have to go make Santa hats for my flamingos and if I can get blogger to upload the photo, I take one to show you how multi-dimensional I am. Ha. This is why I can't get through a book. I have too many interests.

Enjoy as always, hearing your thoughts.