Wednesday, October 29, 2008

- more -

Back to thirty:

The LA Times reports that the Christian Science Monitor will become the nation's first newspaper to drop its daily print edition in favor of its online "treeless" edition. A sign of the times, or a prudent economic move? You have to hope that the 5 million online page-views will be able to support a robust reporting staff and that the journalism will remain the same quality that earned the paper seven Pullitzers. But still. It's a sign of the times.

In response, former capstoner Timi Gould, who once had "" in her email address, wonders: "IS online the answer? Are online ad sales more profitable? Are online articles the same quality as those that would run in the paper? Is newspaper page layout and design a thing of the past?"

To which my answer is, well, I don't have one. But I do have some questions of my own.

For example, in Monday's column about the increasing polarization of the news media, Howard Kurtz wonders whether Fox's Sean Hannity and MSNBC's Keith Olberman are "watching the same presidential race, or even living in the same country?"

He continues: "Prime-time viewers of Fox News and MSNBC get vastly different perspectives on the campaign that sometimes approach mirror images. This goes well beyond the hosts' political views to the booking of guests and the way stories are framed, pumped up and sometimes ignored. In that sense, the programs reflect the increasing polarization of the media world, where columnists, strategists, bloggers and radio talkers have built thriving careers catering to those who already agree with them."

Here's what worries me: as daily newspapers (and the straight-ahead journalism that they support) shrink, the growth industry appears to be opinion, either via cable or the blogosphere. Not sure that makes for an informed citizenry. Full disclosure: I am an Olberman junkie. Still, I recognize that folks like him and Hannity are preaching to the choir. But. Does everyone?

Finally, this is so preposterous, I can't even comment. According to a piece in USA Today last week, Media News Group CEO Dean Singleton, whose media company has presided over the near-dismantling of our beloved Mercury News, spoke to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, suggesting that newspapers consider outsourcing many of their daily operations.


"One thing we're exploring is having one news desk for all of our newspapers in MediaNews ... maybe even offshore," said Singleton, whose company owns 54 newspapers, several in the Bay Area, and who may well be the poster child for Molly Ivins' apochryphal comment about newspapers committing suicide.

Of course, that's just my opinion (Yep, I'm doing just what I worry about. See above.) bk

No comments: