Friday, July 15, 2005

Some headlines worth giving a once over
The new edition of the Columbia Journalism Review has a few really good pieces worth looking at which unfortunately are not online.
The first is called "The Crowded Theater," with a line suggesting that "it's time for American journalism to rise out of its defensive crouch," by Douglas McCollam, a contributing editor at CJR. It is a pretty biting overview of the pathetic state of the mainstream news organization, which as we all know is in the toilet right now. It takes off from the point of the Newsweek Koran "debacle" and goes from there. Beyond that non-story though, there are some real problems with the media today. When we see more about Brad Pitt's meningitis on our local news stations than local news, or stories like the ones that are posted here today, then we all have a lot to worry about. Also, we normal folks out here in the real world know what the problems are with the news and media.
I particularly like this McCollam line right here, where he suggests that lawsuits derived from investigative journalism gone awry are the smallest of the media world's worries:
The prospect of defending the case is deterrent enough for many a penny-pinching publisher. These are the same corporate cost-cutters who are constantly justifying their penury by citing hemorrhaging circulation. Declining readership and sagging newstand sales have fed a general malaise in journalism, and combined with increasing corporate insistence on profit margins of 20 percent to 30 percent, have put a big squeeze on print news. Staff cuts mean less enterprise journalism and promote a sense among reporters that a lot of important stuff doesn't make it into the newspaper.
Such a blisteringly honest and accurate indictment of the current state of some print journalism outlets right now. It is so sad because these outlets are so vital to open governmental processes.
Another article in this month's edition is a bit more high brow, if you will. "Off Course" takes a look at the New York Time's coverage of pop culture and how it often misses half the story.
Over six and a half pages, the author, Michael Massing, makes some intriguing points about how trendy the coverage is, noting that despite a huge staff working on the section [I thought he mentioned a specific staff number but after scanning the pages a few times, I couldn't find it], the paper misses a lot of components to the pop culture puzzle. Massing notes that more coverage is given to the new fall television lineups or the demographics of a television audience, than how that audience is affected or what middle America might think of this issue. The business end of pop culture is covered more than pop culture itself, he notes in detail. He suggests correctly that the NYT should spend more time trying to bring middle America to New York than worrying about bringing New York to middle America.
While I am personally more worried about the NYT's sad news coverage than the pop culture coverage, the problem goes to the heart of the entire journalism problem: How you use your resources and to what end. If an editor or publisher is constantly going after trends, instead of quality, those bosses are going to miss a lot.
Two other articles I haven't read, "Bitter Pill," about the lack of journalism research into new perscription drugs, and "Quest for Fire," about one writer's attempt to find a good small market paper to work for, look like good stories too.
Here's hoping that some powerful people read these important articles.

Other stuff
For a number of years, I have been writing and talking about the Oklahoma City Bombing case and the things with the case that just don't add up. There are a lot of them, BTW. I have also highlighted the work of one important reporter, J.D. Cash, of the McCurtain Gazette, who has been one of the only folks from the journalism world to look at any of this stuff. Here is J.D.'s latest bombshell, no pun intended: ["Former DOJ officials claim OKC Bombing coverup began in D.C."].
William Greider, a great exposer of the truth about "free trade," will be speaking in Manchester on Saturday. Here is a piece from the HippoPress about him: ["Q &A - William Greider, Telling it like it is"].
Regular Politizine reader SlaterSue has a new blog about, on of all things, gardening!: ["Downtown Tomatoes"].
Western Primary idea gets an institutional supporter: ["Western States Primary: Eight-state election would be good for all concerned"].

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