Monday, August 10, 2009

More About the US Daily Newspaper "Death Watch"

Face facts folks: Diligent bloggers dig in endlessly for free (almost); and newspapers around the country are suddenly appreciating (and incorporating) their hard and diligent work

By Curmudgeon

Since, broadly speaking, an urban daily newspaper [endangered species we are told] is the topic of this cummunity blogsite, I thought a link to this interesting story in today's NY Times might not be out of place.

When the Hearst-owned Seattle Post-Intelligencer died some months ago, predictions were that The Seattle Times [the city's only remaining daily and one of the few family-owned dailies left in the US] was on death watch too. Now, however, the Seattle Times is, for the moment at least, "operating in the black."

And the P-I hangs on as a minimally staffed website --- 20 journalists --- covering a limited number of stories. For the rest, the on-line P-I relies "on more than 200 unpaid bloggers who write on things as diverse as their neighborhoods, cooking and marathon running." How's it doing? "Better than expected" says the Times.

Interesting story.


Curmudgeon said...


You wrote: Bloggers dig in endlessly for free; and newspapers around the country are suddenly appreciating (and incorporating their hard and diligent work)

Well, two things to keep in mind. One, the PI no longer exists as a print daily. It's exclusively a free on line paper. Much like a blog itself.

Second, bloggers writing free for papers could end up simply as rate busters, providing publishers for free what professional journalists earn a living doing for pay. I don't want professional journalists to more or less disappear [or have their numbers even more greatly shrunk] at mid-sized city papers by having their writing replaced with free stuff from bloggers. I don't think it would, in the end, be healthy for the cities involved. Or for the country. Or for the papers.

Bloggers digging in on stories local dailies can't afford to staff out [or choose not to cover for whatever reason --- think of the kind of reporting, and that's what it is, that Dan S. does for WCF] --- is one thing. Bloggers en mass supplying much of the regular daily content of a newspaper for free, and driving professional journalists onto the unemployment lines is quite another.

RudiZink said...

I dunno, Curm, so far as "professional journalists" go, I'm not sure all of them "earn their salt."

Take this instance from the 8/4/09 council meeting, when citizen boggers posted this:

Citizen journalist Dan and Jim report

Compare that to Ace Reporter Schwebke's contemporaneous Twitter posts:

Shwebke 8/4/09 City Council Meeting Tweets

To tell the truth, it's probably pretty clear who performed better that night, in the battle between a paid professional journalist, and citizen journalist "rookies."

Food for thought, Curm, especially regarding issues which are important to the citizen readers.

The times they are a Changin', Curm.

This anthem also applies to the newspaper business, methinks.


Curmudgeon said...

On the real-time reports from the Council meetings:

Two points: first, remember, Mr. Schwebke had other responsibilities that evening [prepping a story to run in print and on line, taking notes, etc. and, apparently, shooting video, doing follow up interviews] that Dan and Jim did not. His twitter posts were ancillary to his primary responsibility that night. Dan's and Jim's were not.

Second, particularly in Jim's case, while his posts were accurate and fun, they included the kind of commentary asides that no mainstream reporter could/should/would include in his coverage. And with all due respect to both Dan and Jim --- and there's nothing snarky in that cliche. I have great respect for them both --- they were that night not wholly disinterested observers in what was happening.

Just sayin'....

RudiZink said...

Charlie Trentleman linked a very interesting article on this subject today on his "Facebook wall" today, BTW, Curm:

Paper MoneyNewspapers aren't assets to be flipped, leveraged, and stripped

Frankly I'm amazed that Charlie hasn/t yet gone "legit," and started up a discussion about this on his blog.

Maybe he's working on it.

Curmudgeon said...


Thanks for the pointer. Going to look now.

Rockford J. said...

The world will a always need Gonzo Journalists. Which necessitates kids who want to sneak through libraries and pour through jungles.
They have ink in their blood, no matter print, broadcast, podcast, fanzine, webblog, journal, EBooks, whatever.

There will always be journalists; The NY Times Weekend will hit my porch for the duration.

Hamilton said...

"John Patterson, Ogden’s chief administrative officer, said the city is going to start a campaign to bring about civility between motorists and cyclists. He and the mayor will ride with Critical Mass next month, and they are considering starting regular rides with the mayor."

Rides with the mayor...Bwah HAHAHhahBWahaha..snort..chuckles and a guffaw...hum. Oh please, do this do this. Just tell when and where.

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