Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Overrated Content of Daily Newspapers

Following was posted as a quick response on a Washington Post comment board attached to an article announcing the sale of Media General newspapers to Warren Buffett:

I sense a little naiveté about the [general good quality of the] current content of newspapers.

Newspapers [now] do just as good a job as [so-called] new media do in repurposing and multiplying the same content. The AP comes to mind as being one of the 1st to do this, but now it's worse, with local papers:

  • Using crap -- and I mean crap -- from local TV.
  • Local TV using local newspaper people as talking heads and as experts on various topics (as opposed to asking real experts, which are harder to track and are not the attention whores that media types can be).
  • The very same local copy being used by a TV station as a script, and a web site and a newspaper for stories.
  • So-called "citizen journalists" providing "content" for free.
  • More "opinion journalism" stemming from newspapers running blogs and then mining them for "content."
  • Commercial entities providing free content.

I used to have a much higher opinion of newspaper content and told myself, "There will always be a place for serious newsgatherers." Well guess what? Given a chance, struggling newspapers will suck from the same teat of mediocrity where other media outlets feed. (And by the way, real newsgatherers, people with professionalism and integrity, don't come free. Even at strip mines like [some newspapers I know] where even the best journalists are paid chicken feed they're the biggest business expense.)


  1. The blogger thinks it necessary to make the following addition: All of these are generalities. True generalities, but still generalities. Every day I am thankful for newspaper colleagues past and present who have reported and edited and designed honorably, competently and professionally. Not an attention-whore among them. Well, maybe one or two, but that's all, and none presently.

  2. Harry M. Fox5/17/2012

    There are good folks left. However in 35 years I have seen the dominance of shallow-minded, lowest common denominator types come into many of the leadership roles.
    Many of us can remember linotype ops who knew the king's English. Many in the craft who understood the reader now are out-shouted by the corporate suits.
    There will still be a place for well-written local papers.

  3. What is the best paper out there? I would like to subscribe to something on dead wood to read and peruse as my eyes get tired on the monitor screen.