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Chicago Tribune Reporters Don't Want Readers' Pre-Approval

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the that-could-certainly-be-annoying dept.

The Media 176

theodp writes "Irked by the Marketing department's solicitation of subscribers' opinions on stories before they were published, 55 reporters and editors at the Chicago Tribune signed an e-mail demanding the practice be stopped. 'It is a fundamental principle of journalism that we do not give people outside the newspaper the option of deciding whether or not we should publish a story, whether they be advertisers, politicians or just regular readers,' the e-mail read."

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Can't figure out who else might do this .. (3, Funny)

nmrtian (984245) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801495)

Imagine that, having your readers decide the content. Unheard of. /.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801713)

No, it's not just having your readers decide the content. It's a stupid marketing idea from people who don't understand the Internet.

Let's say there is some public corruption by a popular political figure. Should an organized group of partisan poll voters be able to spike the story just because they don't want to hear something bad?

If you remember the purpose of newspapers, and journalists generally is to "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" you'll understand why you really don't want readers to be able to choose which stories get published any more than you want some multi-national corporation that owns the media outlet to squash a story that shows one of its cronies in a bad light.

Can we agree that not all "Social Network" ideas are worthwhile just because they happen to involve the Internet?

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (4, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801797)

If you remember the purpose of newspapers, and journalists generally is to "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

Goodness, you have a long memory! For as long as I can remember, the purpose of newspapers has been "Make as much money as you can, by any means you can get away with".

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (3, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801839)

..yeah, but there's a niche in the market for an honest news-reporting newspaper, which they've settled into nicely in Chicago. If they start going pop then they'll find themselves competing with tabloids for less money. It's in their interest to stay quality.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802137)

honest news reporting in the most dishonest city? I'm calling bullshit.

Remember BlagoJockoffovich? The chicago tribune spiked stories at his request.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802039)

And it's pretty obvious that copy editors have been the biggest casualty of that philosophy, as the quality of print spelling and grammar sinks to the level of wired.com

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802051)

pfft, most of the history of newspapers has been to do precisely as you mention. Only in the past 50 years or so has a thin veneer of "bringing out the truth" been touted as the job of newspapers. But newspapers are profit driven enterprises, just like any other business - always have been.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (4, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802747)

That's the goal of the owners and marketers. I suspect most reporters hold with the older ideals. And take a look at who implemented this idea, and who spoke out against it...

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (3, Insightful)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801889)

If you remember the purpose of newspapers, and journalists generally is to "Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

And here I was thinking it was to "Report the news."

I guess that's why my newspaper subscription expired last week.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802069)

Given the fact that most news is about people, it tends to focus on those who suffer and those who are in a position to make changes but don't really care.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801937)

Let's say there is some public corruption by a popular political figure. Should an organized group of partisan poll voters be able to spike the story just because they don't want to hear something bad?

No, that should be left up to the partisan editors of the media, such as in the Monica Lewinsky scandal [drudgereportarchives.com] .

Now of course the media should be free to publish what they like, but don't fool yourself into thinking their only agenda is getting the truth out.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802073)

I thought it was all Fair and Balanced(TM)...

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802815)

If you want Fair and Balanced (tm), get two newspapers with diametrally different interests and orientations. Read them both. Then make up your mind, based on two conflicting lies.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802551)

Oh yeah, the Lewinsky story sure didn't any any coverage. I can't remember a single news reporter even mentioning it.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802139)

And if the readers really want to vote on the stories, let them vote with their almighty dollar.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

Knitebane (64590) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802263)

Should an organized group of partisan poll voters be able to spike the story just because they don't want to hear something bad?

Never, we'd rather have righteous dudes like Michael Isikoff spike the Monica Lewinsky story at the request of the Clinton White House.

That would be oh so much better, right?

Ah slashdot (1)

GuloGulo2 (972355) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802655)

"Let's say there is some public corruption by a popular political figure. Should an organized group of partisan poll voters be able to spike the story just because they don't want to hear something bad?"

Where pedants fabricate stupid objections out of whole cloth in order to show the world how smart they think they are.

You, and the idiots who modded you up, need to be sterilized.

"Can we agree that not all "Social Network" ideas are worthwhile just because they happen to involve the Internet?"

I'll agree to that when you admit your obejction is moronic.

Deal?

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802785)

Even worse, this was done by the Marketing Department.
In other words, if you let this go on, it wouldn't be long before the marketing weasels would be deciding what was 'news'.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (2, Insightful)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802303)

They shouldn't let the readers decide the content in this manner. Readers decide the content by not purchasing the publication and buying one which does provide them with what they want.

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802331)

Thought that separates the bloggers from the real journalists

*ducks

Re:Can't figure out who else might do this .. (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802681)

...and the papers can't figure out why they are dying of low subscribership!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

asking subscribers may be a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801503)

You're a subscriber, so why approve a story after you've read it -- you'll just end up seeing the same story when it's published. Old news! Say it sucks, and you'll see something novel published.

Somethings fishy here... (5, Funny)

fractalVisionz (989785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801509)

Hey, I didn't approve this story, why was it released?

Re:Somethings fishy here... (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802077)

You approved it, but the men in dark suits zapped your memory of that event, leaving you to grasp in the dark as to the true meaning behind this editorial. It will get worse.

Re:Somethings fishy here... (1)

wdr1 (31310) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802713)

Oh the irony of this comment & the story editor being timothy...

In other words (-1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801511)

In other words, the reporters don't care what the readers think of their stories. As long as they get to over-hype whatever story they want (a brown nose Obama story, or a effusive global warming rant), they don't care if nobody wants to buy the paper.

It's just like the current group of teachers. They don't care if they actually teach anything, and are upset when someone wants to make sure that the kids are able to read after graduating high school, as long as they get paid for pushing them forwards.

Re:In other words (3, Insightful)

Kligat (1244968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801549)

"As long as they get to over-hype whatever story they want"

Isn't the idea of overhyping based on whoring out integrity to whatever sells, which would be the opposite of what is going on here? Just why are they overhyping if they aren't doing it for ratings?

Re:In other words (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801553)

I read it the other way. Basically, if we just follow what the majority want, then many stories that appeal to minority groups will be snuffed out. I can't speak for this newspaper, as I have never read it. If they are already just trying to provide sensational titles, with very little actual content, then sure, they don't care about the stories and are just about lining their wallets.

Re:In other words (4, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801683)

And I read it as the reporters using the idea that you just said to accomplish what the parent suspects. They're smart enough to know that that is a very real drawback to the plan, but they ought to be smart enough to take the feedback and do something with it.

It might be a case of readers collectively wanting to suppress something, but it might also be a case of readers wanting information about something else and wanting resources to be freed to get that information.

Re:In other words (5, Insightful)

5865 (104259) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801579)

Why should the reporters care what you think of their stories? They're here to report, not to butter you up.

If I want news report that aims to please the masses, I'll go watch Fox News.

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801843)

if reporters are here to report, then they're not doing what they're supposed to anyway. thank God for impartial reporting that really only concerns its self with truth like cnn, msnbc, nbc, abc, fox, and almost every other news outlet. great crack at fox, though. i'm sure they're the ONLY media outlet that has an agenda.

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802003)

If I want news report that aims to please the masses, I'll go watch Fox News.

Fox News takes prides in its constant devotion to delivering the most pure, unspoiled propaganda. You were probably thinking of CNN, which shamelessly says whatever gets it the best ratings.

Fox gets a bad rap... (0, Flamebait)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802565)

but everyone knows that "fair and balanced" means balancing out the other side. The real problem is that liberals can't own up to the fact that rest of the cable news clique panders to their political sensibilities.

I get it, too. Journalists are generally well educated, work hard, and all but the most famous get paid peanuts. There are some unions involved. Find any profession with those conditions and you'll find liberals. Let's stop pretending that when every person in an organization shares a political view that it doesn't leak into the reporting.

All news is biased -- get over it.

Re:In other words (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801641)

It's the evil liberal media conspiracy, trying to suppress the truth of Obama's evil! Where can I sign up for your newsletter?

In other votes. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801643)

"In other words, the reporters don't care what the readers think of their stories."

The readers indicate their care by either purchasing or not purchasing the newspaper.

Re:In other votes. (1)

genmax (990012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801729)

And this move by the newspaper formalizes the notion that the primary criterion for whether a story is reported is if it will increase sales. Perhaps there's nothing wrong with it, after all a newspaper is a business too - and many are in danger of going bankrupt. But somehow, "yelp"-ifying journalism sounds a little disconcerting.

Re:In other words (4, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801649)

In other words, the reporters don't care what the readers think of their stories. As long as they get to over-hype whatever story they want (a brown nose Obama story, or a effusive global warming rant), they don't care if nobody wants to buy the paper.

I read it as the reporters wanting to publish news, rather that was fits best with the marketing.

Re:In other words (5, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801677)

Or perhaps they have things to say that people don't necessarily want to hear or believe.

Re:In other words (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802189)

Exactly!

Now, I'm sure the Tribune's marketeers will whine like crazy that their subscription readership numbers are declining. I'm sure they are - I'm a subscriber to their South Florida Sun-Sentinel, whose overall page count has been dropping like a rock the last 2 years. Comic strips have been dropped to save space, the financial pages are now a single page of pure drivel, and the list goes on.

What they need to realize is that, yes, we the computer-literate can read the same AP or Reuters articles to our hearts' content (and perhaps beyond...) the night before. *BUT* we (or, at least, I) am relying on the reporters and the editors/managers to make sure that there is some sort of local perspective/analysis knitted into the story that appears in print. And, I'm also hoping that the editors will suppress some of the (very) rough drafts of local stories that I have seen on the Sun-Sentinel's web site the night before, that would make any high school English teacher scream in terror, and make us wait until the final version that appears in print. A teaser headline with a graf or two of bare-bones facts is fine, but some of the other crap that's made it to the web (but, thankfully, fell onto the composing room floor) was just that - pure crap.
(And I mean poorly-phrased, inconsistent subject/verb relations, etc.). I'm a EE, not an English major, and I could probably do better than some of the clowns they had on the beat.

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802755)

Or perhaps they have things to say that people don't necessarily want to hear or believe.

Or perhaps they say things that aren't believable by many people.

Democracy in Publishing isn't... (2, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801939)

... vote by approval for a story. It's the ability to have multiple perspectives on a topic published. Ideally, by anyone, but failing that, a fairly representative set of perspectives.

Being able to vote stories up or down could be disastrous when popular opinion and the truth of the content aren't relevant. Are you worried about brown-nosing Obama stories? Obama's pretty popular right now. A press run via democracy might be less likely to publish stories critical of him (or of climate change, for that matter) than an independent press.

It's just like the current group of teachers. They don't care if they actually teach anything, and are upset when someone wants to make sure that the kids are able to read after graduating high school, as long as they get paid for pushing them forwards.

Nobody goes into teaching just to get paid. There's so many better ways to do that. Most people who do it -- as I can attest from firsthand process of going through an education program -- have a pretty wide streak of altruism. The system may grind their best efforts out of them, and like the rest of us, sometimes they're just trying to get through their day, but my observation is that apathy is pretty far from the default state.

Re:In other words (1)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802083)

No, reporters care about special interest groups not being able to squash stories with little public backlash due to long acceptance of some kind of "community review" program.

Re:In other words (2, Informative)

Mazcote Yarquest (1407219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802265)

If the "news" reporting agencies in this country would quit performing their best Monica Lewinsky impersonations they would not have to worry about polling their readership.

Objective reporting would attract readers of all stripes since the who, what, where, when and why, AKA facts (not opinions) are what we, the news consumers, are looking for.

If I want opinion I will read Ann Landers.

Good riddance Boston Globe!

Publish and be damned! (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801523)

Yeah, wouldn't want anything to be changed, as the present system works so well. Better keep up the tradition of deciding to publish the same bad articles.

Reason #9883459 (1, Insightful)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801531)

Yet another reason why the newspaper business is bleeding money and descreasing subscriptions year after year after year. Kudos to the editors for attempting something different -- trying to match the product they sell to the market demand.

I don't believe these employees understand they are just that -- retained at the pleasure of their employer. If they wish to spout off with unpopular opinions without fear of retribution, they should have either been college professors or Supreme Court justices.

In the meantime, so long as someone else is paying them, they will do as they are told. Call the Waaaambulance.

Re:Reason #9883459 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801563)

They're not selling the newspaper, they're selling ad space. The paper isn't the product, you're the product.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801719)

That's a short-sighted way to look at it. The readers are customers as well. Especially if they pay for the news paper. But even if it is free they will cease to read the paper if it fails to provide them with valuable reading material.

In other words, the news paper provides a service and has two customers: the readers and the advertisers. If either one goes away the paper fails. It must continuously service both. Therefore they are both customers.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

Neil Sausage (633803) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801655)

If you think journalists today don't understand the precariousness of their employment, you are dead wrong. Every single journalist I know is under severe stress at the least, and most are under-employed or unemployed.

I laud these reporters for standing up for the news business and trying as best they can to keep the subject matter and material from becoming a race to the bottom. People complain about the papers these days - and in many cases rightfully so - but we're going to be in a woeful place if journalists become extinct and TV reporters, comedians, and bloggers are the only sources of news.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801743)

I disagree with you pretty much completely. Your premise seems to be that the reporters' job is to do whatever pleases the public regardless of whether or not it's journalism. Wrong. As long as they're selling a newspaper it will be assumed that they're doing it with journalistic integrity. If readers understood that the stories were being targeted at their "preferences" (read biases), they would quit reading it and go someplace else for their news. Even Fox News understands this -- why do you think they repeat the words "Fair and Balanced" about 40 times an hour?

Therefore, it is the reporters' duty to speak out when they're being asked to do something that could compromise the paper's integrity. Of course, if the paper's owners decide they want to sell pseudo-news, that's their prerogative. They can fire these poor bastards and hire some news whores.

It takes a lot of guts for these reporters to stand up for their profession's integrity like this.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801785)

Even Fox News understands this -- why do you think they repeat the words "Fair and Balanced" about 40 times an hour?

I thought it was because the more they say it, the truer it becomes...

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

N3Roaster (888781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801769)

My local paper tried to match the product they sold to the market demand several years ago. They did a study, found out what the market thought it wanted, implemented the changes. The result sucks and it hasn't helped the company financials one bit. Sorry, but the market is lousy at communicating what it wants. If you give customers what they want, they'll buy it, but if you give them what they ask for, most of the time (the 'most' is to allow for that tiny portion of customers who really do know what they want and the small probability of a business noticing which ones those are) you'll be out of business before you know it.

one size fits no one (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802595)

I'd subscribe to a local if it was custom tailored to my requests. That would really be a way to "give the customer what they want". A weekly that was so designed and still came in cheap would be sufficient. Such as, I would prefer a lot more local and state news coverage, as national and international is just so much better online, and they could skip the huge middle section they push with high school sports. Other people might want the opposite, even more local grade school sports and gossip, etc. If newspapers had a way to easily do a custom version, it might work. And I also notice the totally free mostly ads/classifieds newspapers seem to be doing OK, both the English and Spanish papers around here.

Newspapers now throw the kitchen sink at people and they only read a couple of sections and the rest is a waste of paper and just costs them money and the advertisers for those sections you skip are paying for no eyeballs. Which makes the costs way higher than they need to be. Even on a large newspaper, I never read the fashion or travel or food or sports sections, woodstove kindling instantly. And I bet most folks read the newspaper in a similar fashion, just those sections they are really interested in and skip most of it. Making a custom fit paper, "news a la carte", could be an alternative way to do business. How hard to pull that off with the dead trees version, no idea.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802761)

Let's just hit this here nail on the head, shall we? The reason so many papers are in the crapper is because for the past...hell probably 30 years or so they have come to rely more and more on the same wire services crap to regurgitate while local reporting has pretty much been who got married and who died.

Every town large enough to have a newspaper has plenty of REAL stories they could be reporting. There is corruption, back room dealing, cops taking bribes, etc. You know this, I know this, whether the newspapers actually know this or not I don't know. The reason I don't know is because all they seem to do anymore is keep spewing wire stories with just enough BS shellacked on top to make it fit the paper. And lord save us from the spin! It is all so damned far left or right that the whole damned thing feels like as much propaganda as the old Soviet era Pravda. This is why I quit subscribing to newspapers. If I wanted the same wire stories with tons of left or right spewage piled on top, I can get that all over the net for $0.00.

What I want, and what would probably be a whole lot better for us as a nation, is having actual LOCAL reporting again that does more than "the local firefighters are having a cookout on Saturday". I want to know which of my local elected officials are having their driveways redone at my expense. I want to know which corp is paying off the county to let them get away with the eco mess they are making with their natural gas wildcating. I want to know why certain cops that supposedly make $27K a year are living in McMansions. These are the things I want to know.

But as long as all the papers do is keep regurgitating wire stories and the local section consists solely of weddings and funerals their services will continue to be worth $0.00 to me. And from the looks of their collective bottom lines i can't be alone in that sentiment.

Re:Reason #9883459 (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801861)

Kudos to the editors for attempting something different -- trying to match the product they sell to the market demand.

I don't think you understand what's going on at all. The marketing department were the ones trying to adjust the news to meet "market demand" (apparently -- it wasn't clear just what they were trying to do). The editors were the ones raising the red flag.

News that is "sold" as an entertainment product designed to match "market demand" is inherently corrupt. Any organization that is attempting to foist off that kind of insidious manipulation as information should be destroyed.

Their marketing people are idiots. (4, Insightful)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801533)

WTF do they think a newspaper is for? The minute you try to "democratize" is, politicians and PR types will try to game the system to make sure that only stories beneficial to them will get published.

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (4, Insightful)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801599)

Are there many non-PR types in "journalism" these days anyway?

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (3, Insightful)

schnell (163007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802753)

Are there many non-PR types in "journalism" these days anyway?

Yes! Actual journalists - as in the people who write the news stories that you read in a newspaper or online, hear on the radio or ... maybe ... see on TV - are actually highly dedicated professionals who (for the most part) care deeply about truth and accuracy. Spokespeople, flacks, talking heads and gibbering mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann etc. are not journalists and represent a very tiny fraction of the "journalism" industry; they are just more visible, especially if you only watch TV news and don't read a newspaper.

Don't let the fact that FOX News is 99% eye candy or asinine talking heads fool you, since 99% of actual news published comes from real professional journalists. And these selfsame people you disparage are among the very best guarantors of your constitutional liberties and right to know what your government is up to.

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801623)

Who knows what democratizing it would lead to? You might just wind up with a bunch of stories on Ubuntu, video games, and what Stephen Colbert is up to...

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (3, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801679)

> The minute you try to "democratize" is, politicians and PR types will try to game the system...

Too late, the politicians and PR types are already gaming the system.

Do I think stories in newspapers should be blindly moderated like slashdot comments? Oh hell no. But getting some outside feedback into the editorial loop certainly can't hurt a system to obviously broken. So yes, if the editors see a very negative reaction to a story they should take a look at WHY teh readers are saying ixnay on it, take a look into their complaint and see if they have a point. There should be a human editor in the loop though, if nothing else to stop the Colbert troll army, the 4chan troll army, etc.

Which of course brings me back to something I have said many times on many forums including this one. This is all moot because for the most part human editors NO LONGER EXIST. We all have this mental picture of the grizzled old editor ruthlessly marking up the poor reporter's copy and throwing it back to him for a rewrite. But they went out during the rounds of endless belt tightening in the MSM over the past decades. Look at the NYT, CNN, any major news website. Don't look at their blogs, look only at the real news copy. Bet you find a groaner spelling or grammer error within ten minutes even if you read at a below average speed. And if you read an article in a area where you know poo from shinola you will find a factual error in almost every story these days. And everyone interviewed will say at least one of their quotes got mangled between their mouth and the final copy. So much for the fresh faced right out college interns doing fact checking and following up on double checking the quotes. All that is gone. The average newspaper or TV network journalism is about as accurate as the better blogs. And increasingly the blogs are doing a better job because the blogs will mercilessly fact check each other.

If somebody could get a real old fashioned news organization back in the game I can't help but believe there is enough pent up demand for real journalism that it would find a revenue stream somehow. Ya know, journalism: where you report who did what, where and why they did it. Reported in depth, with extensive quotes and background and every quote and fact checked with a high enough accuracy rate to quickly gain a reputation as the fracking Voice of God. Then leave the opinions and analysis to the talking heads on cable news shows and blogs.

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801963)

Hate to break it to you, but for the most part reporters no longer exist. Give you an example (and you'll quickly see why I'm posting anonymously): if a company I own wants to have an article about it in run in a newspaper or magazine, I call my PR person and have them write the story. That's right, WE write the stories about OUR company. We then "shop" them to reporters. Sometimes they'll "buy" because they find the content genuinely interesting (this actually happens), sometimes we resort to incentives. They then take our story, maybe change a word or two, and print it under their own name. This isn't just business news, this is all news. Political stories come out of partisan "think tanks." Same with science, entertainment, etc. If the news these days reads like a press release it's because it probably began life as one.

We no longer have newspapers or news magazines, we have aggregators and bundlers of content. They way they operate isn't terribly different from your average porn site that buys pictures and video from various photographers and sells subscriptions to it.

My personal opinion regarding why newspapers (and news magazines) are failing is because people have figured out they're being sold a huge, steaming pile of bullshit. I mean, this is life, we know we're going to be lied to and sold to from time to time, but why on earth should we pay for it (the joke about Pinnochio having sex not withstanding)? There are other reasons, of course - dead tree format can't keep up with our favorite series of tubes, nor with the highly partisan and more entertainment-driven cable news channels. I don't think people are willing to pay for media that sells political, business, or economic opinion even they happen to agree with it, except for the people who derive some sort of pathetic self-esteem boost from it. At least I hope they aren't. I'm kind of clinging to my last shreds of faith in humanity here :-)

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (1)

Koby77 (992785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801711)

WTF do they think a newspaper is for? The minute you try to "democratize" is, politicians and PR types will try to game the system to make sure that only stories beneficial to them will get published.

Newspapers across the country are losing money and are at risk of going out of business. The "undemocratic" process may lead to financial ruin, and the alternative may be that there will be no newspapers. Then the only print news remaining will be the political and PR types, who spin things with their press releases, which sounds like the exact opposite of what you want here.

The trick is to provide a happy medium, where the press publishes news that doesn't disgust its own readers so much that they unsubscribe. Letting a few readers preview stories is hardly democracy, and it puts a check and balance against the radical editors that are putting its own employer out of business.

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802261)

Their marketing people?

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802391)

>politicians and PR types will try to game the system to make sure that only stories beneficial to them will get published.

Its already gamed by the ownership and editors. The trib runs right-wing in Chicago and endorsed Bush in 2004. Their slant and editorial is a force of its own. Adding a democractic element will off-set this.

the journalists, however, aren't stupid--at all (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802469)

The journalists aren't idiots, however: they are going to continue to trade stories and (un)favorable coverage for benefits, like access to the rich and powerful, power trips, and book deals.

If you think that journalists at commercial newspapers have your best interests at heart, or that they give you unbiased coverage, you're a fool.

Re:Their marketing people are idiots. (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802601)

WTF do they think a newspaper is for?

Journalists and the press are for uncovering and delivering news to the populace.

Newspapers are for making money.

Mission for Slashdot... (0, Flamebait)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801565)

'It is a fundamental principle of journalism that we do not give people outside the newspaper the option of deciding whether or not we should publish a story, whether they be advertisers, politicians or just regular readers,' the e-mail read."

Here's a mission for Slashdot... Google every reporter who signed that e-mail and determine if any of them were in bed with the Bush administration in the run up to the Iraq War. This should clear up whether this is a truly genuine sentiment or just exaggerated outrage.

Or Vice-Versa! Re:Mission for Slashdot... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27801603)

Or vice-versa... See if any are in bed with the Obama administration. Why would they care about what is published now that Bush is out of office? Unless they were in bed with the current administration, then...

Re:Or Vice-Versa! Re:Mission for Slashdot... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802289)

In 2006, Democrats achieved majorities in the house and senate by promising to end the Iraq war. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected President by promising to end the Iraq war.

The Iraq war is no closer to being ended than it was when George Bush and the Republicans were in charge.

And yet no one in the press seems willing to mention that. Maybe they're too busy enjoying the tingle in their leg as the Democrats piss on us.

Re:Or Vice-Versa! Re:Mission for Slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802685)

Troop strength is about 140k, down from a high of over 200k. The troops should be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

in bed with power (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802603)

With few exceptions, journalists are in bed with whoever is in power and whoever has money.

They want to spin the news they way THEY want (2, Insightful)

Cromac (610264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801591)

'It is a fundamental principle of journalism that we do not give people outside the newspaper the option of deciding whether or not we should publish a story, whether they be advertisers, politicians or just regular readers,'

Of course, they want to spin the news they way THEY want - both by how they report and what they choose to report or not. How could they stand it if people wanted them to report negative stories about Obama and positive stories about Bush?

A Democratic Press Might Well Favor Obama (2, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801827)

How could they stand it if people wanted them to report negative stories about Obama and positive stories about Bush?

Suppose all press outlets were run democratically, plurality vote, right now.

Given the current popularity of Obama [yahoo.com] and unpopularity of Bush, how many news outlets do you think would be publishing stories critical of Obama and positively reviewing the policies of the Bush era?

Re:A Democratic Press Might Well Favor Obama (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802835)

How many are?

Generally, a newspaper writes what its readers want to read. For obvious reasons: If it didn't write what they want to read, they wouldn't buy it.

So, essentially, what this stunt is about is taking out the guesswork: I.e. finding out what your readers want to read before putting it into the paper. And it's all covered up by making the news "more democratic". Kinda clever move, if you ask me. Instead of racking your brain over the question what your readers want to read so they buy your newspaper, simply ask them!

Essentially a choice of two equal evils. (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801613)

On one hand, you have the reporter's (note I do not refer to them as journalists) bias.

On the other hand, you could have them deep-sixed by someone else's biases.

In a case like this, there just isn't a "lesser" of two evils.

In Other News (4, Funny)

Chlorine Trifluoride (1517149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801675)

The Tribune's expose on Anonymous will not be published, after receiving 50 billion no votes.

Trust in Editorial Decisions Must Be Rebuilt (4, Insightful)

ewhac (5844) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801707)

Unless and until the reporters and editors of the Chicago Tribune are prepared to denounce the "reporting" of flagrantly biased "news" organizations, unless they are prepared to say, "We are not like them. We are better than them, and here's how we're going to continue to be better than them..." Then I'm afraid they're going to have to accept the necessity of someone looking over their shoulder, checking their work.

This "review" process is already taking place -- it's why subscriptions are falling off a cliff. The product is crap, the readers know it's crap, which is why they're not buying it. Solution: Stop printing crap.

Clearly, their feedback mechanism has gotten seriously out of tune. I think also that they recognize this, and that the idea of allowing direct reader feedback on stories in the queue was born out of some desperation to correct their editorial priorities.

Here's a hint: Try to keep ideology at bay, and follow the facts wherever they take you. Yes, it's often uncomfortable. I imagine Woodward and Bernstein had many sleepless nights. Yet we are the better for their work. Emulate that. Oh, and spike any "story" about Paris Hilton.

Schwab

Re:Trust in Editorial Decisions Must Be Rebuilt (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802129)

Yep, everybody thinks the press is biased. I happen to think it's biased in a conservative direction. I also think that the reason newspapers and magazines are in trouble is not because their product is "crap." I think it's more because there is such a plethora of stuff to read on the internet that coincides precisely with readers' own biases that they gravitate towards that. Why bother with real news when you can fulfill your sense of outrage by reading Drudge?

Also, your first sentence doesn't make any sense.

Re:Trust in Editorial Decisions Must Be Rebuilt (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802283)

Wrong, subscriptions are falling off because it's much easier and convenient to read the paper on-line; and on-line papers are free and generate 1/10 the advertising rates.

And it's been so successful, too... (1)

MaggieL (10193) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801777)

AP, April 22: "The Chicago Tribune cut 53 jobs on Wednesday as part of a newsroom reorganization designed to help it weather an economic downturn that has forced its parent company to seek Chapter 11 protection from creditors..."

More top-down management (1)

doomsdaywire (1380507) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801791)

I'm sick of upper management and marketing/advertising sticking their noses where it doesn't belong. This isn't the first time I've heard something like this proposed. It's the entire reason there are comment boxes and ratings (on some news sties) on stories. This is NOT the way to go. Write a goddamn letter to the editor.

Reporters think: (1)

Grobstein (818720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801845)

Yeah, readers are just another over-fed special interest.

Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (0, Redundant)

gadlaw (562280) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801915)

Journalism seems to be one of the last refuges of the arrogant 'I know more than you do' know nothings since the decline of the British Empire and their 'Nobility' which was also full of the clueless but supremely self assured types. Journalists go to school for 'journalism' and are otherwise clueless about the world they live in or the world they report on. But that does not deter them from their own sense of superiority and desire to tell the rest of the world what to think and how to vote etc etc. To see these clowns up in arms over anyone being able to suggest or critic their mandate from Heaven to tell it like 'they' see it is most amusing especially as we see them bothering to rearrange their deck chairs as the end of their ship against the rocks is about to happen. It's most amusing.

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802165)

You, sir, are an idiot.

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (0, Redundant)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802449)

Wow, I like your well supported arguments and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (2, Funny)

ZenAtheist (1546185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802635)

Wow, I like your thinly veiled sarcasm and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802703)

So, you want to subscribe to each other's newsletters. Get a room, you two!

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802369)

Politics is another refuge.

You think like a ReThuglican Jew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802585)

You think like a ReThuglican Jew

Re:Arrogant Out of Touch Dolts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802669)

I don't see the "funny" part of this post. One thing that bothers me is when these guys STOP writing/reporting due to funding (e.g. travel), we will be left with Twitterers or whatever they are called.

I would assume wherever a story happens, it will be Twittered and then the journalist will actually just be an editor by just scraping stories posted by others and reposting. The problem will then become signal/noise (e.g. fact/fiction, news/not news).

Note, I am all for letting the market govern itself, so I don't suggest helping any newspaper. But a heads up that it will get MUCH worse before it gets better.

"The News" is supposed to be a historical record! (0, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27801941)

The News is used by many later as historical references to past events. It is important that there be as little to no biases or inaccuracies and especially as few opinions. Lately, people have forgotten the importance of "News Neutrality" where media such as Fox is clearly attempting to take a side. While it is "ok" for regular people to take a side, it is absolutely sacrilegious for the news to do this even when it is in the form of omission such as Fox's refusal to show Obama's addresses.

To an extent, the news needs to take their readers for granted. And if people say "I can't believe you published that garbage" that's fine... quite often, readership increases when the material is disagreeable. Howard Stern exists on the air because he makes many people angry and uncomfortable.

And I think it is generally and universally disapproved of for the news media to use its position to spread propaganda... yet, for those who agree with it, they don't realize that it is even propaganda to begin with.
 

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (2, Interesting)

c1t1z3nk41n3 (1112059) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802063)

I think that's a little paranoid. Fox declined to show the latest Obama press conference because it was during sweeps week and gets worse ratings than their normal programming.

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802179)

To my experience, I don't recall any major source dropping a presidential address in favor of any particular show -- most often the most favored shows are cancelled for crap like presidential addresses and debates. I'm not saying it has never happened before, but it is the first time I have ever seen that.

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (2, Insightful)

fwarren (579763) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802351)

Oy! Fox taking sides.

Fox is NOT the only one takings sides. At least with Fox, if a politician is caught in a bathroom with someone, the word "Democrat" or "Republican" is used in the first sentence.

All the other major TV and Newspaper outlets will feature the word "Republican" in the first paragraph but will not use the word "Democrat" till the 4th or 5th paragraph

As in "Vermont Sentator So and So (Republican) was caught doing something. Is right up front. But "Utah Senator So and So was caught doing something, blah, blah, blah. He is a Democrat serving in the senate for the last 18 years". Ends up way down in the story.

I prefer my bias right up front, at least I know how they will slant the story. In that at least Air America and Rush Limbaugh have done a service to the public.

Speaking of such things, I am close to a story that has been in and out of the paper about 6 or 7 times. Close enough that I know all the parities involved and I have yet to hear one news report that has been anywhere close to even 25% correct. That scares me. If the rest of the news is like this, I am becoming dumber and less informed every time I read a newspaper or watch a reporter.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where a company only cared about breaking even, paid editors to keep the reporters straight and to help check out facts. Reporters tried to get every side to the story and present them all with as much intellectual honesty as possible. That people would flock to such a paper and buy it.

The Papers, Editors and Reporters would like you to believe that what they do is called "journalism" and all the above is true. But that is not the case. The paper is beholden to it's stock holders to turn a profit. Editors may have an ax to grind and are more favorable to one point of view or another. Or just like to see a story written in a certain way. Reporters want to "change the wolrd", or "cover a big story". It is a huge chore to collect all the facts and to be meticulous in being fair. It is a lot more work than just trying to publish stories that get you recognized.

All of these things go into the product called a "NewsPaper". It is sold to the reader as something open minded, informed and intelligent people read. Even if they wrote at a level opend minded 12th graders read at 20 years ago, and now write at a level for open minded 9th graders. It is also sold to the advertisers as a way to reach a large volume of people who can be influenced to spend their money on the advertisers product.

At best, it is in the stock holders benefit for a paper to strive for a certain bias or for "journalism". At worst, papers that don't deserve to exist will keep being published.

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802485)

I once worked for the Dallas Observer, a largely editorial news weekly rag. The music editor wrote an opinion piece that stated things largely as he saw them. It insulted, in some way, one of the paper's advertisers. The music editor lost his job as the advertiser would accept nothing less.

This is a true tragedy in the world of journalism. The editorial and sales sides are always at odds with one another, but I have never seen editorial win... not ever.

To their credit, the journalists at that paper truly work in the spirit that the press is supposed to work under. I have witnessed the animosity first-hand. But too often, money wins.

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802791)

Just a quick comment: Fox has been known for, and caught remarking Republicans as Democrats when they get into trouble. They actually will switch the party affiliation lettering right in their news ticker, or in the story sub-titling.

Happened fairly recently too as I recall.

Re:"The News" is supposed to be a historical recor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27802463)

Exactly! For example, other news outlets (print, broadcast, and cable) didn't cover the tea parties. Or claimed they were only concerned with taxes. A 5 minute fact check would show that the original genesis was the mortgage "relief" plan. But I guess it's racist if I don't want to pay for some deadbeat who bought a $700,000 house he couldn't afford.

What a "popular" newspaper would look like (4, Interesting)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802259)

What a democratically decided newspaper would put on the front page today (via Yahoo search traffic):

Swine Flu
Christina Applegate
American Idol
Kristie Alley
Jon and Kate Plus Eight
Sarah Jessica Parker
Twitter
Hi-5
Lady Gaga
NBA

Source: http://buzzlog.buzz.yahoo.com/overall/ [yahoo.com]

Three observations:

1) There are media outlets that cover pretty much exactly this list. Good for them. I don't read those and never will. I question their contribution to democracy.

2) I get news from a variety of social media filters, and almost none of the information I get from these very useful selection processes are from this list (the flu outbreak is the exception). That's not to say that my information is better than yours - just that it's what I happen to want.

3) Therefore: A more useful "democracy" strategy might be to help readers select from the vast array of information coming out of organizations like the Tribune and put that on the "front page" akin to Amazon's personalized homepage metrics.

As a journalist, I will say that allowing anyone outside the organization to spike a story pre-publication opens to the door wide open to self-censorship. Critical journalism requires independence, or it becomes PR. Critical journalism is rare enough as it is without this.

What about censorship by owner? (1)

grantdh (72401) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802409)

Maybe those reporters and editors should also send the letter up the chain to their owners. How many times has a Murdoch or Packer dictated what can & can't be published?

It doesn't take much effort to determine the bias of the reporting source and adjust accordingly to the news being presented (*coff* Fox News *coff*). We shouldn't have to, but it's the way it is.

The only place the customer is always wrong. (3, Insightful)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802451)

It's interesting to see these newspaper people work. When they sell a story and the population is angered with it, they just complain that 'Joe Sixpack' isn't clever enough to understand. They just never really got the point that, Joe Sixpack is their customer: without him, they are nothing.

Journalism...that's what it's called now days when you take a story, read it through a prism, apply it to a template, and if you post it at all, it becomes read by 500-1000 people, has a problem. It' not the internet.

Ever since Watergate, when reporters were seen to 'take down' a president, journalism students have clamored to undertaken the role 'to change things'. Just ask them- they're proud to tell you.

The problem is, it's not their job to _change_ things, it's their job to find the truth, wherever it leads, and _report_ it. Even if it makes them look bad, even if it makes their president look bad, if it's true and someone might care, it's in there. But that's when "journalism" had integrity.

And it's been that way so long now, the lone dissenting news source on TV, Fox News, is looked at as a problem, because it's the only news channel that isn't covering every story the way reporters want it told. It IS, however, telling the truth, and the news most Americans want to know.

Think I'm full of it? Notice how, on a good day, CNN (though never Headline News) sometimes gets more ratings than Colbert or the Daily Show...two FAKE news shows. Meanwhile the ratings on Fox are sometimes FOUR TIMES LARGER. There is a reason for this; people know lies when they hear it.

There's now Congressional interest in bailing out their hometown newspapers. John Kerry (who, you'll recall served in Vietnam) wants to fund the losses at the Boston Globe. Others want to save the New York Times.

But does anyone see these trends reversing? I sure don't.

One Word (1)

mothrsuperior (981616) | more than 5 years ago | (#27802629)

Regarding all the self-righteousness in the above comments, all I can say is one word:

Firehose.

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