David Simon and The Future of News

(The serious-looking guys above are Kevin Roderick, creator and editor of LA Observed, and Carlos Rajo, political analyst for Telemundo station KVEA.)

If you somehow missed yesterday’s WaPo article
by David Simon on the state of newspapers, here’s the link. Below I’ve imported a few of the emblematic lines.

The topics that Simon brings up were also the center
of a three hour round-table discussion (sponsored by the Institute for Justice and Journalism) in which 20 journalists from the LA Times, KTTV, LA Observed, La Opinion, The Daily Journal, KPCC and more got together to discuss the future of news reporting.

Okay, here’s Simon.

…It Isn’t the news itself still valuable to anyone?
In any format, through any medium — isn’t an understanding of the events of the day still a salable commodity? Or were we kidding ourselves? Was a newspaper a viable entity only so long as it had classifieds, comics and the latest sports scores?

It’s hard to say that, even harder to think it
. By that premise, what all of us pretended to regard as a viable commodity — indeed, as the source of all that was purposeful and heroic — was, in fact, an intellectual vanity.

Newsprint itself is an anachronism. But was there a moment before the deluge of the Internet when news organizations might have better protected themselves and their product? When they might have — as one, industry-wide — declared that their online advertising would be profitable, that their Web sites would, in fact, charge for providing a rare and worthy service?

And which, exactly, is the proper epitaph for the generation
that entered newspapering at the very moment when the big-city dailies — the fat morning papers, those that survived the shakeout of afternoon tabloids and other weak sisters — seemed impervious, essential and ascendant? Were we the last craftsmen prepared for a horse-and-buggy world soon to prostrate itself before the god of internal combustion? Or were we assembly-line victims of the inert monopolists of early 1970s Detroit, who thought that Pacers and Gremlins and Chevy Vegas were response enough to Japanese and European automaking superiority? ….

Here’s the rest


  • Oxford English Dictionary
    newsprint • [nooz-print, nyooz-] noun cheap, low-quality absorbent printing paper used for newspapers.

    “Cheap, low-quality”…which also describes the editorials.

    People whom I know, who have expressed views on the Atlanta J-C, say that they stopped taking the paper because they have significant disagreements with the editorials and are not going to support a paper so aligned with the radical left. We’re talking about executives and pretty smart people.

    I quit taking it, too. Furthermore, I used to like their sports pages, but the sports pages were taken over by liberal idiots who were more concerned with articles on racism in everything and with cutting coverage on popular teams for the purpose of taking up good space for women’s sports, that maybe ten or twelve people cared about.

    If these reporters couldn’t see the handwriting on the wall, after all the calls and letters of protest and trends, then why should we listen to them at all? Good riddance.

  • Very sorry. Here’s the last one.

    LINK: Outlets Disguise Agenda of Ex-Journalist’s Group as Iraq ‘Lies’ Hyped

    AP, MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times on Wednesday all promoted a “study” by a couple of affiliated far-left groups…but…the news outlets disguised the ideology of the groups….

    Keith Olbermann, who in 2006 slammed the Media Research Center as a “rabid right-wing spin group,” Wednesday night on Countdown with “935 lies” on screen on top of a picture of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, described the Center for Public Integrity and Fund for Independence in Journalism as merely “two non-profit groups….

    In his “Best of the Web Today” rundown for the Wall Street Journal’s Web site, James Taranto critiqued an AP dispatch headlined, “Study: False statements preceded war.” Taranto asserted:

    …Nowhere in the entire dispatch does the AP tell us anything more about the two groups than that they are “nonprofit journalism organizations.” In fact, the Center for Public Integrity is a liberal-left group that has taken money from George Soros, who has compared contemporary America to Nazi Germany. The Fund for Independence in Journalism seems to be but a spinoff; its Web site says its “primary purpose is providing legal defense and endowment support” for the center.

    (Is there any untruth to this report? Of course, not, but the left-wingers will try to attack it based upon the source.)

    These are examples of why people have to seek out news from multiple and varied sources. The traditional media failed us. Let them suffer the consequences.

  • Now, nuts. I didn’t even close the quote above properly. My statements at the end start …”(Is there any untruth….” I’ll go practice on my coding.

  • After the filibuster by Woody – Don’t buy the Journal-Constitution Woodster if its so offensive – I would like to get back to Simon’s article.

    Mentioned but swept aside in the peice was the realo reason why the SUN (Mencken’s paperlet us remember) and the LA TIMES have both become deracionated in the recent past. And that is a pecular fact of the industry that, until recently, made them impervious to issues of quality. And that was the monopoly nature of the modern press. When the Herald-Examiner folded here the TIMES had the second largest market to itself. The Daily News in the Valley and the Register in the OC (let alone the Press-Telegram) were simply not competition. And the news business waas a good one – profit margins of 20% or higher and quality wasn’t even an issue.

    Fact is, all these papers were advertising entities – they don’t call it the “news-hole” for nothing. John Singleton’s papers, and those of Scripps Howard and other chains, could hire a skeleton staff – use wire services for national news (forget foreign news but if you needed it there was AP or Reuters) and get syndicated columnists and canned editorials. Hell, press releases could fill whole sections like auto and reaal estate. And waatch the profits roll in.

    Did these papers serve the community? No but they were cash cows. And they were milked even though the penetration of their circulation areas was pitiful – if 25% of the region read your rag it was cause for celebration. And you were the monopoly source for the department store ads and Classified ad? Bonanza!

    Well that is over. Craigslist. Waal-Mart (which doesn’t buy spreads) and other chaanges in ads have gutted that market. And who need the vapid crap that passes for coverage these days. I guess the decline of the Pasadena STAR-NEWS doesn’t mean much but what about the WaPo? The WSJ? what can Murdoch do there? Add a page three?

    I’d hate like hell to be teaching in
    J-School now. What do you tell the kids?

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