Mar 12, 2009

Past, present, future

Once upon a time, big metro newspapers were expansive...

LA Observed posts a promotional video from 1993 that shows a confident, growing Los Angeles Times near the peak of its power. The video highlights the paper's Valley edition, which had more editors sitting around a table then than there are reporters at many Southern California papers today. The Valley team would help the lead the paper to a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Northridge Earthquake the following year. (One of those editors, Robert Rector, came out of retirement in the early 2000s to edit the Pasadena Star-News while I was there).

Now big daily metro newspapers are rapidly amputating limbs and removing organs to make a body small enough to survive on a diet of shrinking revenues and debt obligations. Soon, one or more of these abused bodies will become a carcass, and a big city will be without a big metro paper, according to a story in the New York Times. Jeff Jarvis thinks it's a good thing. Most everyone else doesn't.

So what to do? What comes next? No one knows, but Whet Moser at the Chicago Reader has a comprehensive - and long - piece on how the Internet is allowing all of us, any of us, to deconstruct and reconstruct the news and how that is hurting traditional journalism. He hints at the paradox at the heart of this revolution, that those who deconstruct-reconstruct the news need traditional journalism to succeed but that traditional journalism is failing in large part because of the deconstruction-reconstruction taking place.

It's all well worth looking at/reading.


Newshound said...

It's pretty obvious that this trend toward Web news instead of print editions is gathering momentum.

If we see papers like the P-I in Seattle go Web-only, we'll have to see a tremendous staff reduction to make up for lower revenues.

That means less news gets covered, particularly the investigative sort of news.

Cui bono?

Seems to me people who want their activities kept secret -- big government, big business -- benefit one heck of a lot from print media dying.

"And now out to our reporter Tiffany Taylor at the zoo, where the Bengal tiger has just had babies. Tiffany?"

Anonymous said...

so it will be like local television news without the depth?

Anonymous said...

Or the good-looking, dim-witted actor/anchors.

Newshound said...

How many reporters do you think a paper like San Gabriel could afford if it were a Web-only paper?

Anonymous said...

It does neither well today so what is the difference?