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Edward Wasserman: How are we going to pay for covering the news?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by NatureBoy, May 12, 2008.

  1. NatureBoy

    NatureBoy Member

    Saw this on the Poynter site. I'll highlight the same passage they did:

    "Start billing those who benefit from near-news: Journalists have long been embarrassed by how much so-called reporting is stenographic -- town-council actions rendered as news reports, company press releases barely rewritten but displayed under staff bylines. These aren't news, they're institutional advertisements posted for free. Why not drop the pretense, start charging for running self-serving content, label it for what it is? Let those who benefit pay, and free up reporters for journalism."

    I don't think that would ever fly, but it's always nice to dream isn't it?

    Here's the link to the story: http://www.miamiherald.com/430/story/529594.html
  2. times38

    times38 Member

    They'd just start putting it on their Web sites, if they aren't doing so already.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    It baffles me that a journalism ethics prof would think it's a good idea to have "stenographic" coverage of the town council, paid for by the newsmakers, and that Miami actually ran this shit.
  4. Glad we agree this time. I thought this was idiotic.

    If they want to buy an ad, let them buy an ad, but don't let them buy the reporter.
  5. NatureBoy

    NatureBoy Member

    I'm with times38 in that I don't think they'd ever pay for the service. The local governments can put the information on their own television stations and I'm sure the local TV affiliates wouldn't send the government a bill to put it on the evening news.
  6. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    Bunch of nonsense. It amazes me sometimes how some journalists/journalism professors still seem to operate with the mindset that newspapers still control the flow of information and that people would be begging newspapers to disseminate their information.
  7. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    Many small newspapers do run the minutes of city council, school board and/or township meetings, paid for by the respective government entity.

    That being said, I did go to the dark side (news) and I cover city government now as part of my new job. There is no way in hell I am going to write a 'stenographic' story about a council meeting. Not going to happen. Is he suggesting that the only way city council actions get in the paper is if the city pays for an ad? I would certainly hope not.

    My job of being at the council meeting is to report what happened. I've had a couple controversial issues to write about, issues which affect the public and the public must know about. If that is left to the city to purchase an ad and report, those issues are going to be swept under the rug.

    Last night, I received praise from one of the councilors for actually reporting what's been discussed during the meetings. Considering what I've written has been less than flattering at times, I was surprised, but said a simple 'thank you' and left it at that.

    If there are other journalists out there writing 'stenographic' city government stories, why not teach them the right way to report? I know, a pipe dream. But I think that would be better than leaving it in the hands of the ad department and government entity.
  8. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Let's cut the guy a break, fellas... it can be tough to see so far down from the ivory tower.
  9. Some dream, getting government to pay for their coverage.

    Hey, let's start charging high schools and colleges for sycophantic sports coverage.
  10. AP_Hack

    AP_Hack New Member

    I would think most levels of government would love it if the press stayed away. Isn't it a newspaper's job in a democracy to keep tabs on government? The whole idea is idiocy.
  11. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    True. Resistance to change is killing newspapers more than actual change. Idiots like this need to begin to realize newspapers cannot possibly control the distribution of information as much as they once did. Instead, these fools keep pretending it's the old days and that they're the only game in town for getting information out.

    They can't get past the fact that classified ad revenue isn't going to return to the glory days and they keep mistakenly thinking the value of their product lies in the distribution rather than the news product itself.

    They need to realize that only real, sustainable value that newspapers have is their credibility as a source of good journalism -- the various brands they've developed. Fortunately, the brand can easily be transferred to whatever medium of delivery consumers want.

    If newspapers want to save their brands they need to invest in good journalism that includes deep local news reporting that will provide value to their local consumers. Without that there's no reason to pick up your local newspaper or read it on the Web.

    Saving newspapers isn't really important because people will consume the news in whatever way pleases them. Saving a brand that represents good journalism, however, is vitally important.
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