Aug 24, 2008

Newspapers: who needs them?

(This post contains some incomplete thoughts. I still want to notate them for possible future use.)

I think news-gathering entities (newspapers, tv news, etc) should die, but one organ should be salvaged: investigative journalism. That is the ONLY part of a news org that does any unique good and is something an average reader cannot do on his own. The rest of the "news" can be delivered to readers via press release. Skip the middleman.

I get press releases from companies because I run a blog. Then I see the newspapers write stories based on the same press releases I'm getting. If I can get a press release emailed to me, why can't average readers get the same treatment? Why am I, and newspaper writer, any different from the readers? Readers don't need a writer to re-write a press release.

Here's what should happen... and this is based off a very brief dialogue in the comments section of this post I wrote asking why Orlando needed so many dang blogs about arts and culture events... Companies, arts orgs, agencies, whatever... they should be responsible for posting their news to a site like upcoming.org. Readers go there to get their news straight from the source. The more press releases readers read, the more they will ee what utter crap they are, and readers will demand press releases get more honest, to the point and less frequent. The PR folks become the new news orgs.

So where do readers get their investigative journalism? Here's one way:

"anyone can propose a story, though the editors... ultimately choose which stories to pursue. Then the burden is put on the citizenry, which is asked to contribute money to pay upfront all of the estimated reporting costs. If the money doesn’t materialize, the idea goes unreported."
I think, bottom line, as I am questioning the reason my blog even exits, newspapers need to seriously question what they have that is (a) unique and (b) a reader cannot do on his own.

1 comment:

Willoughby said...

As a fellow blogger, newspaper reporter and reader of your blog, I respectfully say you're nuts.

Reason: 9/11. You can't cover anything close to a major breaking tragedy without a large stable of real news reporters. And for the first few days, that story was, for the most part, a breaking-news story.

Locally: Just this year, we had Tropical Storm Fay, the St. Johns River flooding, the Palm Bay fires, the huge I-4 crash, The Palms triple-murder, the Caylee anthony case...etc.

Also, on the non-breaking news front--we have the building of the local venues. You can't keep the people spending hundreds of millions of dollars honest without a reporter covering the dull stuff like bond issues and zoning changes, etc.

And really, no one will pay for the non-sexy stuff except for a large news organization. What workaday citizen puts up $10,000 cash for a bond-issue story and the risk that the investigative project doesn't find what he wants?

Willoughby

www.orlandosentinel.com/homicide
www.orlandosentinel.com/murdermap

 
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