Saturday, November 7, 2009

What's My Line? - The Future Of Local Newspapers

I don't know where this all leads, but I am sitting here sipping on a glass of chardonnay, listening to a local broadcast of a Pacifica radio affiliate(KPFT 90.1-which is also available streamed online), while I read the hometown newspaper out of Victoria, Tx. for FREE on the internet. I doubt if I am of much value to the Advocate(actually, I am sure of that, as they have let me know in so many words and in their actions), as I am pretty sure that I won't be shopping in any of their advertisers' stores.........

Okay - by now, for any of you who read the Advocate, you know that I have just pretty much word for word, turned Chris Cobler's latest blog around 180 degrees. I credit him for the words, but myself for pointing out that this door swings both ways.

Until someone drops the big one, disrupts the infrastructure that affords us instant global communications, and returns us to hand delivered print media, and local low wattage local radio for our news and advertising, the writing is on the wall, for both traditional media outlets I fear.

In the meantime, Internet radio does seem to be in the lead by a neck, because it cooperates with it's affiliate stations as well as competitors, in keeping current information and credits it's sources, as a rule.

I wish the same was true of print media, but I am seeing more and more plagiarism and outright copying of stories and pasting as one's own work, by almost every print media source I read, though some more than others. In blogs of online versions of print media, you almost expect such things, and a lot of the time, the bloggers have their feet held to the fire when someone happens upon a story, that they read elsewhere and know that one of them is a copy of the other. In print however, it becomes a bit more serious offense, as there is hard evidence of literary theft, and we all know what happens when that dirty little secret gets exposed.......basically shame and disdain, and loss of employment for those guilty of reprinting others' work without permission, and claiming it as both truth and to be their own work.........

The other shameful thing I am seeing in print media, is that they are blatantly begging for input from online sources, and relying on what they are told as gospel, and printing it without doing the necessary legwork required of professional journalists, and following up with their sources to verify the facts. They are then faced with having to make an ongoing series of corrections as initial accuracy of the story comes into question, and for what makes it onto the pages of printed news, engage in an escalating number of "oopsie" correction columns daily.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with soliciting reader contributions. It makes business sense, but for goodness sakes, at the very least, verify it's accuracy, and maybe credit the person who though not on the payroll, provided the lead or the story. Rather than having a stable of twenty something Tweeters compiling reports and then expanding on that for the sake of a print story, how about putting some gas in the Buick and grabbing the steno pad and going out and confirming the details. a real reporter would do. And no, stationing "ranging reporters" at Starbucks..........doesn't count as field reporting. Ask Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane or Christopher Reeves(the guy that was a pretend reporter........AND Superhero....and six-four, 250lb"jockey")