Thursday, July 02, 2009

Political Surf on Bloggers in D.C and the Top of Utah

Std-Ex Editor Doug Gibson has a few savvy words to say about the tension between the "Old" and "New" information media

On this tediously S-L-O-W news day, we'll direct our readers' attention to this most-excellent post appearing on Standard-Examiner Editor Doug Gibson's Political Surf blog this afternoon. Doug starts off with a gratingly riveting and revealing video, which starkly displays, we believe, the enormous "fearful" tension which presently exists between traditional print media journalists and web based (blogger) upstarts, as they jockey for prime position in the 21st century infomation age:
Political Surf on bloggers in D.C and the Top of Utah
Doug then finishes off with what we'd consider to be a quite savvy and open minded overview.

We also thank Mr. Gibson for his very kind and gracious words.

We do our level best here at Weber County Forum to provide useful information, and to provoke and promote robust citizen discussion of local political issues. So needless to say, we're duly pleased to observe that at least one well respected spokesman for one local and traditional media kingpin recognises the social utility of that.

Who will be the first to comment?

25 comments:

Sue said...

Congratulations, Rudi. It's nice to see that there's at least one voice on the Standard editorial board who doesn't view Weber County Forum as a threat.

Viktor said...

So the Great Satan Gibson pats Rudi on the head and like the good lap dog he is good old Rudi - well - laps it up.

Gawdalmighty it makes this old paleoconservative wanna puke...

Milton said...

I'm with you Rudi. Doug's positive reference to WCF is encouraging. It's almost a "man bites dog" story in fact. Over the years the SE's references to WCF have been anything but positive. I look at this as real progress, and an indication that at least a few at the SE recognize that the traditional and the online media can coexist.

Dan S. said...

Just tried to post a comment on Gibson's blog and it appears that their server has gone down. This seems to happen a lot. So another advantage of WCF over the S-E is that it's on a more reliable server.

Curmudgeon said...

Dan:

Yes, it does go down a lot. They tell me they have another software upgrade pending that should improve a number of things. We shall see.

RudiZink said...

"They tell me they have another software upgrade pending..."

LOL! Acoording to my clock, the SE site has now been down for almost three hours.

Egad, Dan and Curm... is it possible that the the SE IP people scheduled their software upgrade for a Friday morning on the second day of a four-day holiday weekend, when lots of people are already out of their offices and probably spending at least some of their extra free time surfing the net?

(Major software upgrades are usually the kind of thing experienced webmasters do in the "wee hours," btw.)

With the Standard-Examiner however... which doesn't quite yet seem to have "the internet thing" entirely figured out yet... I suppose ANYTHING is possible, I guess.

monotreme said...

Doug Gibson and I don't agree on politics.

But that's okay. I find him to be thoughtful, and when I have engaged in discussion with him, he is respectful to me in equal measure to the respect I give him. That's as it should be.

I think that his nod to Weber County Forum is entirely appropriate and welcome. There is plenty to read and digest here, and one doesn't have to agree with everything to make it a source of (mostly unfiltered) information. Like any unfiltered source, whether it's drinking from Waterfall Creek or reading WCF, one wants to be careful and use proper precautions.

I was happy to read the post to his blog. I think it can only be good for both the Standard-Examiner and the Weber County Forum.

RudiZink said...

"Like any unfiltered source, whether it's drinking from Waterfall Creek or reading WCF, one wants to be careful and use proper precautions."

Exacxtly right. Kudos to you, mono, for this most-savvy observation.

And I'll take it further with this:

For the most part we have a decidedly intelligent readership here at Weber County Forum, readers who are fully capable of culling the "wheat" from the "chaff."

RudiZink said...

This is very funny. The Standard-Examiner, which poses as a new era media communications source, disappears into the ozone for hours at a time. (It's now over five hours since the SE site was last accessible)

Stick to Weber County Forum, people. Our Google servers are 99.9% reliable; and we're always there to serve our WCF readers in a timely manner...

Curmudgeon said...

The SE's lengthy web problems today are an illustration of why a subscription to what Mr. Trentelman likes to call "the dead tree edition" is still a good idea. Mine was on the porch today in the early morning cool, as usual, website problems notwithstanding. I got the full SE to read, and got to do the Cryptoquote as usual --- solving it is, of course, the essential beginning to a good day. [Now if they'd just run the NYT Xword puzzle daily....]

Pony up, deadbeats and lurkers, and subscribe.

RudiZink said...

Like you Curm, I come from that rapidly dwindling portion of the population who enjoys "romanticly" toddling out to their front porch in their skivvies during the wee hours, and fishing out the current "dead tree edition" from whatever obscure and random point it landed, whether on the porch, in the bushes, or up on the roof.

Yes... I too had today's hard-copy morning edition firmly in my tight grasp this morning... even before the java was brewed.

And yes! In view of the SE's online blunders this morning... it's one more reason to subscribe and be "old school."

Yes!

Dan S. said...

While we wait for the S-E web site to come back online, here's the comment I tried to post this morning:

Doug,

Thanks for highlighting the distinction between reporters and editorial writers.

I would point out that the firewall between the two at traditional newspapers isn't as strong as is often claimed. Most news articles contain subtle editorializing, and there's more editorializing in the choice of what to write about and what not to write about. Meanwhile, it's common to see facts reported on the editorial pages (including your own editorials) that haven't appeared elsewhere in the paper.

As of last year, the Standard-Examiner now has a single editor (Andy Howell) making the final decisions for both the news and editorial pages. Is this part a trend toward further blurring of news and opinion at the S-E?

Thanks also for acknowledging that Weber County Forum has value. But to me, its value goes far beyond the opinions expressed there (though I do enjoy a good laugh now and then). Its real value is that it reports on certain topics much more quickly, and in far more detail, than the Standard-Examiner or any other news source.

Just look at the example of Envision Ogden: WCF reported that EO was a PAC a year and a half before the S-E reported that information. In February, when I discovered that EO had funneled $20,000 through Friends of Northern Utah Real Estate, WCF reported this immediately and posted all the relevant documents. The S-E waited several weeks before covering the story, never posted any supporting documents (unless you count Bob Geiger's retaliatory email), and still hasn't reported on the level to which Godfrey was involved. Admittedly, this example is an extreme case and with most stories, the discrepancies in timing and detail between WCF and the S-E aren't so severe.

Dan S. said...

Curm and Rudi: I too enjoy picking up the dead-tree edition early in the morning. But I depend just as much on the online edition, which I can read on my iPhone from almost anywhere. And I appreciate having access to both whenever there's a delivery problem with one or the other.

Dan S. said...

Blogospheric Navel-Gazing

Curmudgeon said...

SE website is --- for the moment --- back up.

RudiZink said...

Glory Be!

Now I'm not going to have to waste hours of my time going back to cut/paste "digital edition" stories in place of the "live edition" ones I've been linking for the past three months.

I'll have to say that I've been regularly reading scores of online newspapers over the past dozen years, and I don't recall ever having seen any one of them go completely dark for over 7 hours -- like the Standard-Examiner just did.

Interestingly, all their phone lines also went dead during this period, which leads me to speculate off-hand that they likely suffered a major computer failure, and that their web problems probably didn't merely relate to the installation of new web software updates.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Wonder if they know their going dark for so long, phones and web, is itself a news story, and get one up explaining what happened.

RudiZink said...

As a long time SE subscriber, I'll remark that the Standard always publishes (in the dead tree edition, at least) an explanatory article any time their presses go down, and they're therefore unable to delivery their newspaper to their daily subscribers in the morning.

Given their track record, I'll therefore be very surprised if they fail to publish some kind of explanatory and apologetic piece about this, even though this latest service outage only mainly affected online users.

We'll see however, won't we.

Danny said...

Let’s not forget that the SE (Don Porter) once referred to WCF bloggers as “cowards.” More recently, they have ignored or belittled those here.

Why does the paper now speak favorably of the blog and mention it in articles occasionally, as well as link to it in their online articles?

You can understand a newspaperman’s actions in view of three things, in this order: Power, money, and sex.

In terms of power – you can fight it, or you can embrace it. Having tried the former, they have now begun to resign themselves to the latter. In other words, having recognized they are no longer the gatekeepers of information as they have been, they have decided to join the party. In the end, their goal will be to co-opt Rudi into their network, then kill him off or otherwise neutralize him.

In terms of money – the paper has noticed that the WCF drives traffic to them. So it helps them keep the good stuff flowing in.

In terms of sex – there is no tie in. Their motive is only power and money in this case.

(Disclosure: I searched for then only read the part of Doug’s article about the WCF, and none of the rest of it. Unlike the material here, the SE commentaries are still vacuous pablum that are almost never worth reading, even at the speed I read.)

Dan S. said...

valleygirl,

Ah, but most of the comments on the Standard-Examiner web site are also by "anonymous cowards", and even the print edition is now printing excerpts from anonymous comments on the letters page.

The S-E does almost no fact checking. Instead, they simply have a policy of trusting the government and distrusting almost everyone else.

Curmudgeon said...

Since the quality of newspapers [conceded by nearly all, even in the business, to be declining] is at least part of the topic of this thread, I thought I'd point out an interesting piece on copy editors, the latest article by the WaPo's ombudsman, Andrew Alexander.

The WaPo, bleeding money at every pore, has cut its copy editing staff by more than half, and the inevitable resulted: a rising number of mistakes getting into print, and drawing a rising number of complaints from readers.

Alexander says of copy editors this:

Copy editors are the unsung heroes of newsrooms. Unknown to the public, and often underappreciated by their colleagues, they're the last line of defense against a correction or, worse, a libel suit. They're skeptics who revel in the arcane. They know the difference between median and mean, and can speak knowledgeably about topics from Methuselah to the Milky Way. They write headlines, design some pages, check facts and make sure assertions are supported.

And to those who say cluttering pages with typos and similar errors doesn't really matter all that much, Mr. Alexander says this:

Little mistakes take a huge toll on credibility. A groundbreaking newspaper industry study on credibility a decade ago warned that "each misspelled word, bad apostrophe, garbled grammatical construction, weird cutline and mislabeled map erodes public confidence in a newspaper's ability to get anything right."

"If readers can't rely on our accuracy, why should they even pick up the paper?" asked Chris Wienandt, an editor at the Dallas Morning News and president of the American Copy Editors Society....


Good points all, and they point to a larger question that editors and publishers in these parlous times have got to be asking themselves: at what point does the penny pinching [conceding it all to be necessary to stem the red ink flood] reduce the quality of the product such that the bulk of loyal readers no longer think reading a paper worth their time?

Chewy article. Worth a look.

Just Curious said...

Dan:
So the S-E does no fact checking and has a policy of trusting the government? Government is a very broad term. What do you mean? Local, state, federal?
You're a detail guy, so show me chapter and verse their written or verbal policy for automatically accepting everything that government does. I believe I've read several stories where the paper has caught the administration saying one thing, and doing something else and has promptly reported it. And it doesn't check facts either. So I gather you spend your days at the newspaper observing this? What a sweeping generality, and probably shouldn't reported here as a blatant fact. Also why is that posters at the WCF crave acknowlgement as being legitmate? Just curious?

Dan S. said...

Just curious,

Local and state. The S-E doesn't cover national issues except by running wire service articles.

Obviously my conclusion is based on what I see in the paper--not on any inside knowledge of explicit policies. And sure, there are exceptions.

I'm not gonna spend my 4th of July typing out a long list of examples for you. Just take a random sample of political articles and look at whose viewpoints are emphasized.

Curmudgeon said...

A toast for the 4th:

'Tis the 4th of July, and its just possible that at picnics, barbecues, dinners, tavern gatherings and other celebrations across the land, people may be moved to raise a tankard or two and toast the founding. For those so inclined, here is a toast used by the Sons of Liberty in the 1760s to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Tax:

"Perpetual itching without benefit of scratching to the enemies of liberty!"

And my personal favorite, from the War for Independence:

"NO TRUCE WITH KINGS!"

Happy 4th, people.

Curmudgeon said...

Rudi:

Looks like the SE didn't consider its 7 hour on line meltdown newsworthy after all.

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