Off topic: The media’s future

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last few years writing about media issues and how newspapers are dealing with the advent of the Internet. I’ve been less bearish on newspapers than most other commentators; however, the 2008 downturn in advertising has savaged the newspaper business. I remain a contrarian. I’m not yet willing to declare newsprint dead; however, the outlook is less sunny than I viewed only a year ago.

If you are interested in the media, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or newspapers in general then here’s a story from the Guardian. It also quotes Howell Raines. It’s worth reading all 3,000 words.


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    I worry too that “Investigating Journalism” will become hearsay based on Gossip and Emotion on the Net. Back home – The decline of the Birmingham News has become obvious. The Front Page continues to look like a Gossip Rag. Content is declining. Editorial Opinions are being pimped incessantly. Death Penalty,Mass Transit, and Illegal Aliens are the love children. The sad legacy of the News as aiding and abetting the “Big Mules” will continue to it’s death.
    One of the bigger mysteries is the News using as it’s venue on the Web. The site is fucked up in that it is not user friendly and content is parceled with two other Newspapers. A big joke.

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    The greatest and best thing about the WSJ was that one could get the facts surrounding an event from an ‘economic’ point of view which sterilized it from the obvious political bias shown by the NYT. That was refreshing and one felt as if they were getting the story in such a way that freed them to make their own assesment of the given situation. If the WSJ loses that quality, it will truely be a black day for journalism.

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    Dave(not that one, the other one)

    The thing with is that all 3 papers are owned by the same company. I don’t really have a problem navigating it, myself.

    Bringing this back to sports, I wonder how long until the corp. suits decide that paying 3 papers to house beat writers on 2 campuses is too expensive and just pick one writer for each school, and throw the others to the wolves. That’s actually started i believe with the Mobile paper supplying Huntsville with it’s College Beat coverage.

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    I find a pain to navigate when looking for something that I don’t already have bookmarked. The columns can be hard to find for the Birmingham News since they’ve partially redesigned the site.

    As for the beat writers, I would’ve consolidated the beat writers a long time ago. It makes no sense to replicate coverage on the scale Newhouse has done. You can easily cut staff and not harm the product. It is a common practice for newspaper groups to pool resources to cover State government—why not football?

    In fact, with the right leadership you could generate improved coverage. Why? Think about it this way, many of the stories generated are similar themed stories from practice or the game. But with the right leadership you could have one writer doing those things and other writers working on the features, etc. (I know it is harder in Tuscaloosa with some of the restrictions, but still, you can create a better division of labor with a consolidated staff.)

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    I would also advocate rotating the Beat Writers on a yearly basis to give a fresh look at the Beat. I would also scale back the Photos to expand content.
    Say Cap – Do you wonder why there is so very little “quotes ” from the Opponents Coaches and Players in the News ? Can’t blame that on Deadlines…. This use to be standard as part of the coverage …..

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    The Birmingham News Sports Dept is a shadow of its former self. The days of Alf Van Hoose, Benny Marshall, and even Clyde Bolton have been replaced by the overly negative Scarbinsky and Melick types that seem openly hostile to The University of Alabama and other schools. The News Dept and Editorial Dept IMHO have fared better, with the recent Pulitzer of Brett Blackledge as a prime example. But even they have been affected by the rush to negativity, as witnessed by their disgracefully negative stance on UA’s ability to lure Presidential Scholars to Tuscaloosa a couple of years ago. I’ve enjoyed reading newspapers for over 35 years, butI have to admit that I don’t mind seeing newspapers such as the NYT or AJC struggle, because of their obvious liberal agenda. And I will celebrate the day that the Birmingham News finally closes its doors.

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    I know that you are not going to get quality Journalism (hmmmm) from a Blog. People are still going to have to be paid to beat the bushes and write the Story. We will have to pay for the Information.
    Always got to pay – alas.

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    Rotating beat writers isn’t a bad idea. It is typical to rotate reporters off the major beats in political coverage. I’m not sure I’d rotate them on a yearly basis, but certainly it should be done on a regular basis.

    The drawback to rotating reporters is the learning curve. It just takes time to build relationships. You lose the ability to have someone like Cecil Hurt. So, rotating can put you at a competitive disadvantage.

    But the good thing is it clears the bias which enters anyone’s mind when they are close to a program for too long.

    I still believe the Birmingham News to be one of the more conservative papers around. It has become more liberal over the last decade since it decided to abandon conservative orthodoxy on issues like the death penalty.

    —I mean come on, the death penalty isn’t a deterrent. The death penalty is retribution for heinous crimes. People don’t like the word retribution; however, it is a critical element of justice. You don’t punish people to deter them from doing wrong—you punish them because they did wrong. (At least in Kantian theory…something even that liberal guy Karl Marx said was the only theory of punishment that respected the rights of the individual.)

    Anyway, I don’t think the Birmingham News will ever shut its doors. That’s a bold statement, but I doubt people will ever cease reading newspapers. Some people will always still want to hold what they are reading in their hands. I know I do. 😉

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