Tag Archives: newspaper

Ray of light with newspaperproject.org

As a newspaper journalist my heart races in dread every time I read a piece on newspaper decline and another round of job cuts (and these alerts come at me every day from all the range of sources I read).

So it was refreshingly heartening to read about the start-up of a new website that tries to dispel concerns about the crisis of newspapers that it’s dying.

news.newspaperproject.org, of course another US -run site, has been developed by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.’s publisher Donna Barrett, Brian Tierney, publisher and CEO of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News; Randy Siegel, president and publisher of Parade Publications, and Jay Smith, former president of Cox Newspapers.

The website, which discusses the future of newspapers, will probably be used in the end as a form of research marketing tool, but I say bring it  on as long as it saves my preferred media medium.

The latest piece from the New York Times Executive Editor looks at the demise of quality journalism, and the growing demand for it, which in turn could explain the  dwindling popularity and respect for journalists. By quality journalism he means the kind that involves experienced reporters going places, bearing witness, digging into records, developing sources, checking and double-checking, backed by editors who try to enforce high standards.

The supply of this kind of journalism is declining because it is hard, expensive, sometimes dangerous work. The traditional practitioners of this craft — mainly newspapers — have been downsizing or declaring bankruptcy. The wonderful florescence of communication ignited by the Internet contains countless voices riffing on the journalism of others but not so many that do serious reporting of their own. Hence the dwindling supply.

I have previously lamented the little support journalists had from editors, publishers, owners and in a way  from the public itself in giving us the tools to be exemplary investigative reporters digging away to uncover the truth.

Look at the uproar The Times caused in the House of Lords by uncovering that Lords could be bought! This was a beautiful piece of journalism – the digging, following through in a project that took a year to materialise, debate within the House of Commons.

Barrett says that the group’s message is simple; that newspaper readership is in fact growing when you take into account combined print and online audience, that newspapers have the public trust in terms of truth and accuracy, that advertisers still invest in newspapers because of their guaranteed results and that as watchdogs against crime and corruption newspapers form an essential part of the democratic system.

However, there are some fatal flaws in this argument.  Combining print and on-line readership undoubtedly shows an increase, but this does nothing to counter the most common argument that it is print which is suffering at the expense of its online rival.  Moreover, whilst advertisers are still continuing to invest there is no denying the fact that there has been a steep drop in advertising revenue this year, as Reuters’ Robert Macmillan points out.

The bottom line is: we need a bit of good news in these hardening times when the number of journalism jobs are steadily decreasing never mind talking about the quality of the paper. We must not forget, or ignore the declining downward trend of the newspaper but it is heartening to hear the executives with some clout in the field are looking at smallest ray of sunshine and trying to bring back those sunny days.

P.S. Hope they are having the same conversation in Britain, otherwise I predict a typical US-bound brain drain.






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Is the US media train ahead of the curve?

Good investigative journalism is hard to come by, more so for local and regional papers who do not have the time or resources to dig too far. And how many journalists know of local crooks out there but do not have the time, and sometimes the editorial backing, to just get the evidence?

A good piece of investigative journalism can make a career, look at David Leigh of The Guardian who uncovered the dirty dealings of British Arms giant BAE or Watergate’s Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (a.k.a Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, hehe).

I only mention Watergate because I am about to cross the Atlanticand ask the perpetual question –

Is American media more savvy than the UK’s?

Or in other words are they ahead of the curve and breathing fresh air into the newspaper industry more than in this country? I only ask because I am truly curious that the websites and news that have really grabbed my eye these past few months have been American ones…so what’s going on?

Well, first all with investigative journalism, the best pieces in the UK are found in traditional media usually through broadsheets or specialist magazines like The Internationalist/New Scientist/the Economist.

In the US though, the Huffington Post, a fantastic on-line news site (big fan, needs to be RSSd) has announced plans to raise money for investigative journalism projects (according to Robert Macmillan’s blog). Where the money will go, who knows but only three months til further news is announced.

Then there is the emergence of purely investigative sites like sharesleuth.com, bailoutsleuth.com, who reports on financial wrongdoings, and propublica.org which really adds some spice to online news, even if the news is a tad bit over my head.

The emergence of news integration sites, like the Huffington Post and thedailybeast.com, where they combine news pieces with blogs, video, podcasts and visuals, is a news addicts dream.

In the UK, well I suppose The Telegraph has just announced a 5-minute political show on its website offering comment and debate, The Telegraph has always been ahead of the curve, it does have a lot of money, a lot of which was used for the redevelopment of their newsroom not even a year ago and for the hiring of online marketing people and journalists.

I must say though that the BBC are probably the only prudent company looking at the future, they have good political commentary, still fund investigative journalism, have innovative news analysis pieces and are overall reliable with the financial backing to be risk-takers.

Maybe that’s the problem, could we be relying on the BBC too much? Taking up the mantle and leading the way through this dark labyrinth that is techno-land? We should shout no more, we should hasten and create the environment where we too can be innovative with our news, after all if we always follow the BBC’s lead on online creativeness then it will be them who will get the glory and highest web traffic.

We could also have endless talks about the free newspaper wars all over the world, but I won’t.

To put the finishing touches in this polemic, I find the US media coming out ahead, it is not a question of is it bad or good, or should we be jealous and start a riot, rather this is just an observation.

We must now candidly question: Why is the USA coming out ahead of the curve in new media?

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