Monday, January 29

An example of why I don't read Paul Ryburn's blog more often

Because he posts stuff like this and then doesn't have comments enabled so people can actually interact with him.

His main beef in the post is with The Commercial Appeal for not publishing news of a wrestler's death until nearly ten days after he died. Because he doesn't link to the CA article, I can't look at it and tell you if it's a follow-up story or a first-day obituary. There's a big difference. And, since I can't seem to find the story on the CA's website, it's possible that there's no link because it's not online (which is annoying for its own reasons).

He muses, in a post titled "An example of the Commercial Appeal's timely reporting":

This is what passes for "journalism" in 2007. No wonder the bloggers are running the newspapers out of business.

Since I can't comment over at Paul's, I'll just say it here. Sad as it is to admit, there are lots of reasons why newspapers are struggling these days. Corporate ownership and shareholder bean-counting ranks near the top, from what I can tell. (The inflation of middle management and general industry-wide misunderstanding of the opportunities offered by the internet are up there as well.) Bloggers don't even rate near the top. I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I have to point out, in standard bloggers-vs.-newspapers webshits fashion, the irony of a blogger who relies on the city's daily for the background info in much of his blog's content claiming that bloggers are the reason newspapers are going "out of business."

(Unless he is being entirely facetious, which is possible, but I don't really ever see Downtown Paul employ facetious or sarcastic humor, except in that post's title, so I don't think so. Also, if he means it in the sense that bloggers and their readers are linking to newspapers' web stories instead of buying the paper, thus decreasing the amount of money funnelling into the newsroom, then that's possible, I guess.)

There's further irony in there since Paul doesn't let people comment on his blog. Willful obstruction of interactivity is the domain of the big, monolithic paper, no? It's certainly not the local blogger's domain (pun planned out in advance and notorized by my Pun Notary), is it?

It's fair to say that the way people seek out and digest news content is shifting along with the popularity of blogs. Welcome to the new web. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who just visit random blogs for their news, but at some point, the news content generated and shared usually comes back to a news organization — a dreaded MSM-bot — with the resources to investigate and disseminate news in the first place. Blogs further disseminate the news to readers who would rather log on and read like-minded quacks' opinions about stuff than pick up a paper and read the news without interwoven commentary.

But bloggers, by and large, are recreational and their craft is practiced when it's convenient. They provide the colorful commentary to go along with the day's events. Until there are paid, investigative bloggers who do nothing but roam around with laptops and a press pass and the cell phone numbers of the mayor and his/her cabinet, bloggers aren't going to pose a big threat to the newsgathering structure utilized by papers.

Some day, that blogger-as-primary-investigator structure may actually emerge. And if it's good for the community, then I'm all for it. Hell, if I ever get a laptop, maybe I'll help usher that age into being. I'm not trying to protect newspapers; I want to protect the integrity of the professional newsgathering process.

So, bloggers who rejoice when newsrooms lay off people and when papers' stocks fall and fall, try to deflate your melon heads just a bit and recognize that, until you get your shit together and start up independent investigation teams that can fill the void created by the downsizing of newsrooms and the removal of reporters from the streets and conference rooms of your city, your community will suffer.

[Sorta got off on a blogger/newspaper tangent there, and now I'm not sure how to segue back into the whole death-of-a-wrestler thing, which, if truly reported ten days late in the CA, constitutes a mistake by someone. Which sometimes happens, as we have not upgraded the wire desk to fully automatic copybots just yet. May Bam Bam Bigelow's family and fans forgive the CA's tardy reporting.]


Blogger fearlessvk said...

very interesting post, thanks!! i have nothing intelligent to say on the matter, but having a somewhat nostalgic temperament, i just can't let go of the feeling of sipping a cup of hot chocolate (i don't drink coffee!) while reading an ACTUAL ny times (or other paper) at a local cafe. (bluff city coffee - or is it bluff coffee city? - in south main has become my place to do this in memphis...) i even like when my fingers are all black from the ink stains after i've thoroughly devoured a paper. feels like a mark of some accomplishment :)

Mon Jan 29, 07:17:00 PM  

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