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cronkite keynote: corp. ownership places unrealistic demands on working journos

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Herbert Anchovy, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

  2. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Re: cronkite keynote: corp. ownership places unrealistic demands on working jour

    Aw, what the hell does he know?? ::)
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Most of my career has been in competitive markets, and I never witnessed anything like what Cronkite describes, fact-checking your reporter's copy against his competition. I don't doubt Cronkite's recollection of history, but even in the 1980s before pagination and 25 percent profit margins, most desks were not that methodical about fact-checking staff stories, meaning there was no established method for it, most factual errors were caught haphazardly when a copy editor thought the story was wrong. One paper on my resume was different, you were expected to check everything that could be checked. I do not think absence of this can be blamed on owners, though. The decline in accuracy -- if it was ever that high industrywide to begin with -- is our fault.

    This skill was so rare that once it was pounded into me, critiques were a simple matter. Do even a superficial fact-check of an average metro sports section and you were bound to come up with a couple dozen whoppers. You could riff on some big-picture stuff to show you weren't entirely an anal-retentive drone, and then you could pound them with how sloppy they were and how they needed someone to raise the standards. It offended some SEs, but more often it was effective. Now I'm not sure many editors would give a shit. Even with our shortcomings, we are so much more accuracy-conscious than most Web sites, and yet fewer and fewer readers seem able to tell the difference between us and them. It's almost as if getting the little things right is an extravagance, a perverse quirk. And in this world it's really pretty hard to argue that the cost will be justified by bottom-line results. People are used to crap and they will doubt our credibility even if we spent the money to get it right. If we want to get it right, we need to do it for us and stop making excuses about resources. The standards were getting pretty lax most places long before the owners fucked us.
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