Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nothing's all bad

I know I can be quite critical of the Chicago Tribune at times, but that's primarily because I have high expectations of it. I've seen what it can do in reporting and editorializing, so, when I see the folks there slip, especially in these times when we need reliable and complete news sources, I'm quite disappointed. I certainly understand the pressures on old-line journalism right now, but the answer hardly seems to be the abrogation of all the things that make the best newspapers special.

Gregory Tejeda, a long-time reporter in the Chicago area, has a blog called Chicago Argus. It's a solid effort, concerning itself with Chicago politics and journalism. On Thursday, Argus featured a post that I thought was spot on, giving credit to the Trib for the fine work it's done on the Blagojevich story. One quote (but the whole thing is worth reading):
It was just the other day that an MSNBC news anchor (it might have been Norah O’Donnell – there’s a degree to which all TV people look alike to me) made the comment that newspapers ought to be able to make big money off the Internet, considering that small operations like manage to generate income.

Yet the difference is that those are small operations with a limited scope and with minimal staff. They aren’t trying to engage in the same scale of newsgathering that the major metropolitan newspapers are tackling every day. So they don’t need the kind of income a newspaper does.

What constitutes a profit for a website is mere crumbs for a newspaper.

I’M ALSO SURE that if “the Tribune” were broken up into hundreds of weblogs, it could easily generate many sites with the kind of hits and credibility that many of the sites most vehemently outspoken against the so-called Mainstream Media would like to think they have.

I recently read a weblog whose writer/publisher was on a rant saying that newspapers were too likely to blame their financial problems on economic troubles confronting everybody – rather than their own editorial ineptitude.

Yet it is their editorial content that people do not properly appreciate, and likely will not appreciate until some cities are left without any kind of newspaper and the editorial quality of the remaining newsgathering organizations declines to the point of triviality.

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