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Beginning of end for Miami Herald

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by MGoBlue, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Great post, Frank. You put this in perspective in many ways.
  2. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    Seen the Post in the last six months? Ain't the same publication, but that's no surprise to anyone here.
  3. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    There is truth in this. But let's never forget that it was someone -- often the snot-nosed heirs of the founder/publishers -- who never gave a rat's ass about the public trust aspect of their daddy's or granddaddy's business and were interested only in the 20 percent margins. They're the ones who took these companies public and opened the gates to even more people who never gave a rat's ass about the public trust aspect. None of them ever wanted to stick half of the profits into R&D or even a rainy-day fund (rainy-century?). They began to treat newspapers solely as a profit machine, a business, when their reasons to exist began as community watchdog first, business second.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    In terms of this particular thread, not really true. Coincidentally, Knight and Ridder each went public in 1969 before merging in 1974. Jack Knight died in 1981, his brother Jim in 1991. His biography -- an excellent one by Charles Whited -- indicates Knight had some hesitations about going public but ultimately signed off on the deal because the company needed to grow.

    While I'm not a huge fan of Tony Ridder, he did explain years ago that high profit margins were necessary to keep the stock price high enough to make the company safe from hostile takeovers. While that isn't exactly what happened, he was in the ballpark about that. His fears were not unfounded.
  5. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Frank, in your opinion, what stagnated that growth? I'm sure you'll remember that KR was on the cutting edge of the internet with Viewtron but bailed out because it didn't produce immediate dividends. I'm firmly convinced that had KR stayed with it, they would've found a way to make internet use profitable for newspapers. The Viewtron experiment ended in 1986.
  6. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Very, very true, and something which news executives should have drilled into their heads.

    Instead, it's the first corner to be cut at many places.

    They'll learn when they wind up in court over something that gets up there unedited. Or maybe they won't, and it'll happen again.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    OK. I wrote a medium-sized post about this the other day and then lost it. Simon and I have had a spirited debate about this. I'll try again, since it seems to have been deemed appropriate for this particular thread.

    The thinking on this, if you wanted to take it to extremes, would be that writers are immature boneheads who can't be trusted with copy. Maybe there are some of those. We don't have any.

    We've got veteran, experienced, educated writers who have all been doing this a while. They believe in accuracy and maintaining standards just like editors do, and they understand libel. And we've told them that when they're blogging, they have a certain leeway in terms of opinion, but they ultimately are responsible for maintaining all the standards of accuracy and fairness and taste that they apply to their news stories and columns.

    Some blog once in a while. Some blog several times a day. All of them send us an e-mail alerting us when there's a new blog post. And we can then have the capability of reading them, and we can either contact the writer to make a fix if necessary or, for some senior editors, do it ourselves.

    Here's the decision we've made: We trust these people, and we believe blogs are a different kind of content. They're personal journals, observations about the world, mostly their beats, but basically anything they want. And we're comfortable with the notion that the nature of blogs isn't the same as other editorial copy. We don't want these posts getting hung up in the copy editing process, we don't want to inhibit the spontaneity we believe blogs are supposed to have. Sometimes they send posts about something that just happened seconds ago at an event; sometimes, they even break little pieces of news in their blogs.

    We used to have blog posts going through the copy desk. We didn't like it, for the writers, for us or for the content that appeared on the website. So when we changed to a content interface that allowed writers to do that on their own, we let them.

    I know it offends the sensibilities of some, and I know Simon thinks this is just one step on the process of getting rid of copy editors altogether someday. I don't agree, because I know personally at our place that copy editing is a very important part of our editorial process -- just not blogs. We read thousands of words a day; we choose not to read these (beforehand) because we trust the people involved.

    And I would say this: If I was at a newspaper with varying levels of experience, there might be two standards: some people who were allowed to blog on their own, and perhaps others who weren't because they just couldn't handle it yet.

    So that's my feeling on the whole thing, and I sleep very well not worrying about what our writers are going to do in their unedited blogs.
  8. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Hey, we can disagree on occasion. ;)
  9. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    SF, if trust is the key issue, why edit the non-blog material? Same people with the same good judgment, right?
  11. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member

    Are you not saying that you trust these people to not need an editor?

    I can't read that any other way.
  12. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member


    I would love to hear the answer to this that makes sense to me.
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