Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Newspapers are facing more challenges every day

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, March 23, 2013 12:00 am

The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research organization that evaluates and studies the performance of the press, recently reported that the number of people who get information online at least three times a week has surpassed those who read newspapers.

Smartphones' and tablets' growing popularity, plus home computers, have made the Internet the top news destination, easily surpassing television, radio and print media. Online news consumption increased 17 percent in 2012.

Despite dire predictions for newspapers' future, I can't imagine that they'll ever be obsolete. As a Lodi News-Sentinel contributor and reader, I want the industry to not only survive but to thrive. But since print media can't match the Internet for timely news delivery, it has to thoughtfully manage what it can do.

Accordingly, I was surprised to read that the Washington Post — the daily newspaper that Congress, its staff and the D.C.-based lobbyists rely on for national political news — recently fired its ombudsman, Patrick Pexton. In his place, the Post announced that it will appoint a "readers representative."

Although relatively few papers still have ombudsmen, the position is an important one that should act as a bridge between readers, reporters and editorial page writers. But top editors like those at the Post aren't fond of the idea. They're hesitant to publicly acknowledge mistakes and misjudgments, or to incur the newsroom's wrath. The boxing comparison would be leading with your chin.

As one anonymous journalist, said: "Everybody hates the ombudsman. The editors hate the ombudsman. The staff hates the ombudsman. News sources hate the ombudsman. Readers hate the ombudsman."

Whether ombudsmen are widely disliked or not, with newsrooms shrinking and well-paying professional media jobs harder to find every day, somebody should be willing to step up, assuming the position isn't eliminated altogether.

Former Post executive editor Ben Bradlee rose to national fame when he gave Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein a free hand in covering the Watergate scandal. Bradlee wrote in his biography "A Good Life" that when he created the ombudsman position, he envisioned that it would monitor the paper for fairness, accuracy and relevance and to represent the public in whatever strains might arise between the newspaper and its readers.

Furthermore, Bradlee said that the Post ombudsman would "resolutely autonomous," work on a contract rather than be staff, write about whatever he wanted and never be edited, assigned or fired.

The Post's current executive editor, Martin Baron, told Pexton last month before he fired him that one argument against perpetuating the ombudsman job was that its core functions — criticizing the Post and holding its staff accountable — had been somewhat subsumed by the Internet.

Baron's wrong. Internet bloggers and those who comment online to stories don't have the same credibility as Post employees. At about the same time as the Post fired Paxton, they also laid off about 50 others. The firings indicate an ongoing Post effort to reduce overhead.

As of June 2012, the Washington Post Company's newspaper division had lost money in 13 of the last 15 quarters. Total loss over that period: $412 million.

The Post's ongoing losses create circumstances that force the newspaper to eliminate positions like the ombudsman, which in turn means the final printed product is less interesting and possibly more error-prone. Less interesting means fewer sales, less revenue and deeper losses, an endless Catch-22.

Newspapers have been part of Americans' daily lives since the early 19th century. They should survive. But in today's turbulent economy and ever-advancing technology, the challenges are many.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 10:56 am on Sun, Mar 24, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    LBJ's great society is a good example of milking the results...the abject failure of Head Start is the shiner.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 10:53 am on Sun, Mar 24, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Joe: Newspapers are NOT irrelevant nor unuseful...what would we swat flies with???...An I pad?

    News papers (split on purpose) no longer print the who, what, where, when, why and how of a story, they print the reporters opinion and "take on the story" the "slant" or the bias of that person...that is the fault of the editor. Local news papers will never be replaced by by the mass media because they need local information about local problems, ideas, government and schools (which they are lacking in except for sports).

    It seems today that "sound bites" are thrown out there and people are left to make up their own stories about what happened or what it means...information about anything should lead the person to the truth, not a supposition or a story or a slant. There is a real lack of leadership in this country (including newspapers)...at all levels and unless you read Fact Check or Politico or one of the semi-research blogs, the "take" on the situation... "facts" are often just the opinion of the reader. Drawing conclusions to a problem or necessity is too much work, so instead of using our brain powers (government especially) those in charge just throw money at the problem and then milk the process until they retire or get fired...by then it is too late. News papers are no different.

    News papers will only survive if they offer something else...at least something close to a story filled with the truth. They need to re-brand themselves and then prove themselves with real reporting. Rich Banas was a good example...now he's gone. Hang in there Ross.

     

Recent Comments

Posted 6 hours ago by Kevin Paglia.

article: Letter: Evil is always present

I remember when Bush went to war in the Middle East I heard from the Left that the ONLY reason was to keep the oil flowing. Saddam killed …

More...

Posted 7 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: Evil is always present

First let me apologize, I stated "The Last Survivor" should have been the "Soul Survivor". Barrow states that it …

More...

Posted 8 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: Evil is always present

Interesting. Although the United States sent many men to the death with battle against Japan - and the history tells what terrors men such…

More...

Posted 8 hours ago by Christina Welch.

article: Letter: Voters should focus on a new di…

If you don't want to debate issues, then you are clearly in the wrong place. That is what we all do on here, and it is usually an open dis…

More...

Posted 9 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: Voters should focus on a new di…

I have to admit I know litle about proportional representation and will look it up when I get a chance. So far from what I am reading here …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists