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Newspapers Are Dying, Blog At 11

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the news-that-fits dept.

The Media 279

The New Yorker is running a long and thoughtful piece by Eric Alterman on the death and life of the American newspaper. It's not news that newspapers are dying, but the acceleration of the process in the last few years is startling: "Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years... The columnist Molly Ivins complained, shortly before her death, that the newspaper companies' solution to their problem was to make 'our product smaller and less helpful and less interesting.'" The article goes on to profile The Huffington Post as exemplar of what is replacing paper and ink. "The Huffington Post's editorial processes are based on what Peretti has named the 'mullet strategy.' ('Business up front, party in the back' is how his trend-spotting site BuzzFeed glosses it.) 'User-generated content is all the rage, but most of it totally sucks,' Peretti says. The mullet strategy invites users to 'argue and vent on the secondary pages, but professional editors keep the front page looking sharp.

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279 comments

Ha Ha (-1, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913728)

Good riddance to a slow, biased, anachronistic medium run by unethical America-hating propagandists. We'll find out how America is to blame for everything a lot faster from Slashdot and CNN.com from now on.

Thanks to craigslist, blogs, and YouTube for putting the news back in the hands of ordinary people. It may still be biased, but it's now biased every different way instead of just one.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

matty619 (630957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913768)

Preach on Brotha!! -M@

Re:Ha Ha (5, Interesting)

MJMullinII (1232636) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913834)

I take mild offense at that. Most people do not realize that in small towns, most Newspapers are weeklies, not dailies. In small towns, away from the lights and cameras of CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, the weekly Newspaper is about the ONLY source for LOCAL news. That is really the trouble. Large, daily papers keep trying be the end all and be all of "The News". IF they let people watch CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News for the "World News" and focused their attention just on their local communities (Things the Majors couldn't give a shit about), they might be surprised how their fortunes turned.

Re:Ha Ha (0, Troll)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913920)

Consider your offense noted.

Some of us out here are done catering to people who decide to take offense at things as a way to exert control over others. (If that's not you, then it's too bad others ruined your opportunity to have your reactions considered genuine.) So your offense is simply ... noted.

Re:Ha Ha (2, Informative)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914176)

See, I would pay for a small town newspaper. What I got instead is the Sacramento Bee, which is mostly a rehash of the AP and Rueters I can get for free and one day earlier.

So I read the SN&R instead, for free. Not the best, not my politics, but almost always worth a read.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914318)

the weekly Newspaper is about the ONLY source for LOCAL news. That is really the trouble.

Why? Websites cost less than printing presses. Replacing your smalltown paper with a small town website would cost about $1000 [websiteexperts.com] How much does your current newspaper spend just on paper to print on?

Re:Ha Ha (0, Troll)

Shaman (1148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913836)

Uhm.. you do realize that the U.S. is in practically every country in the world, throwing its weight around, killing off brown people at a horrendous rate, destabilizing governments and economies, and threatening nuclear war with its biggest peers?

I'd say that maybe America is to blame for a lot more than it'd like to admit.

(edited because it was supposed to be a reply in the first place)

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913902)

"threatening nuclear war with its biggest peers" Linkypoo? Proof? Evidence? Either that or I call bullshit. As far as "killing off brown people at a horrendous rate", they seem to be capable of that all by themselves without our help on that one. Odd how last time I looked we took out a dictator that killed an entire city because some people from that area tried to assassinate him. Not saying that we don't need to mind our own business, but you sir, need to stop listening to the hate-America stuff and do some un-biased research before you look even more like a dumb ass...oh wait.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913964)

By city you mean village, and many years ago since which presidents had shook his hand. Oh and the collateral damage involved in taking out he dictator has been several hundred times that of the village. Also, the country had stabilized in recent years even if it was still a dictatorship. But your rescuing them has plunged the place into chaos and death. Not that saddam wasn't a prick, but you sir, need to start thinking about numbers and results before you look like evevn more of a dumb ass ... oh wait.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914364)

Please post reliable non-biased numbers of said deaths that were caused by removing Sadam being higher than what Sadam himself caused. This cannot include Sadam's own military in the deaths caused by the US removing him. Back at you on the numbers and results sir.

Re:Ha Ha (2, Informative)

capaslash (941889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914108)

Reporter: "Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about how you have diplomatic efforts, you also say all options are on the table. Does that include the possibility of a nuclear strike? Is that something that your administration will plan for?" Bush: "All options are on the table." That option means nuclear weapons. http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0228-28.htm [commondreams.org] Perhaps if you, ah, read a newspaper you'd be aware of such comments. Also, ""If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it'd be a dangerous threat to world peace," Bush said. "So I told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested" in ensuring Iran not gain the capacity to develop such weapons." http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/10/17/asia/prexy.php [iht.com]

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914402)

Well, if that's what you call a threat of nuclear attack, ok then...I concede defeat at the hands of a better and more informed person. Anyway, Bush can be a total arrogant asshat, no doubt about that! Still, not exactly a good idea for a country like Iran to have nukes, just saying.

Re:Ha Ha (-1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913998)

Uhm.. you do realize that the U.S. is in practically every country in the world, throwing its weight around, killing off brown people at a horrendous rate, destabilizing governments and economies, and threatening nuclear war with its biggest peers?
MOD Parent Troll. This moron has no idea what America does everywhere. He has never been to these places and seen people begging for America's help. He has never had to live under some local two bit thug who steals UN food from UN "soldiers" and then sells it to you, using your daughter's chastity as capital. This condescending dick thinks that people want to live in mud huts and get their drinking water from the same watering hole they shit in.

If this racist piece of shit really cared about "brown people" he'd be asking why we were not in Iraq sooner to prevent all those brown people from getting killed and thrown into mass graves. He'd be asking why we were not in Afghanistan sooner to make sure that all those "brown" women could go to school, not have their clits cut off and be allowed to show ankle skin in public. He'd be screaming for us to go into places like Iran, where they hang gays in public square and Syria, where they take food from children's mouths so they can attack children across the Israeli border. He'd be demanding that we be in Darfur, where real life genocide is happening, right now! and the UN is not doing a damn thing about it.

This selfish spoiled brat likes to blame America for the world's problems and conveniently ignore that America gave more to fight AIDS in Africa than whatever country he is in. He's standing around demanding free healthcare, free transportation and a shorter work week while my tax dollars are spent trying to save the lives of those brown people he claims we are trying to kill. I guess to him, AIDS research and saving lives are what he calls throwing its weight around and killing off brown people at a horrendous rate.

(I know I'm going to get modded down for this because it's the truth. Liberal mods know this to be true and can't come up with a convincing argument to counter it. So, they violate the moderator guidelines and down mod this comment just because they disagree.)

Re:Ha Ha (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914042)

This condescending dick thinks that people want to live in mud huts and get their drinking water from the same watering hole they shit in.

People who invite development projects do not necessarily welcome military action.

He'd be asking why we were not in Afghanistan sooner to make sure that all those "brown" women could go to school, not have their clits cut off and be allowed to show ankle skin in public.

Female genital mutilation does not [speroforum.com] occur in Afghanistan.

and Syria, where they take food from children's mouths so they can attack children across the Israeli border.

Do you have evidence of mass starvation in Syria? There are loads of tourists there these days, and no one is reporting famine and misery.

This selfish spoiled brat likes to blame America for the world's problems and conveniently ignore that America gave more to fight AIDS in Africa than whatever country he is in.

While other countries give less in total dollars amounts to aid, they quite often give more in percentage of GDP.

Your post deserves to get modded down because it is poorly thought out. You could make a case that America is doing good in many parts of the world, but when you should such shoddy arguments you hurt your own cause.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914060)

...but when you should such shoddy arguments.

Sorry, that should read when you show such shoddy arguments.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914276)

If this racist piece of shit really cared about "brown people" he'd be asking why we were not in Iraq sooner to prevent all those brown people from getting killed and thrown into mass graves.

Pathetic - take some personal responsibility for the disaster you've created in Iraq. Pretending that you did good there is nothing but moral cowardice - rather than admitting to yourself that you've been supporting a criminal act and start working to remedy the situation, you go with the easy option and just deny the facts.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

Alcoholic Synonymous (990318) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914434)

You had me up until the whole liberal mods thing. Then you fell into the same american political lets-brand-each-other-with-words-and-confuse-their-meanings game that has played out ad nauseum, especially over the past two decades. So you know, liberal means "permissive", it's the same root as the word "liberty" which means freedom. The word conservative means to hold back, to restrict. Don't confuse american socialists for "liberals" because they want to take your freedoms away from you in the guise of a nanny state (this is called communism). The same thing applies to those right-wing wacko conservatives, only they want to take your freedom under the guise of national security and protecting corporate interests (this is called facism). Your founding fathers were "liberals" fighting the "conservative" interests of the British. If you are not a liberal, you are not a proper statesman.

If you are going to pick on the asshat who thinks american's don't have better things to do than kill "the browns" all day, don't become an asshat yourself and confuse freedom loving people with self-interested politicians. That's what they want you to do. Instead of a political buzzword like "liberal", try something more appropriately descriptive and accurate such as "pinky" or "nazi". Keep in mind, the racist fuckstick you just went off on categorized most of the world as "the browns" instead of making the distinction of "world hating religious zealots" and "genocide loving regional/global destabilizers". By mislabeling and rebranding american intentions, he turns the issue from a worldwide asshole shitstomp into a racially charged issue. This, like the "liberal" moniker, is a propagandist technique.

Now those damned pinko mods can mod you down.

Re:Ha Ha (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913852)

Craigslist, (most) blogs, and YouTube are riddled with too many idiots to even be granted the acknowledgment of being biased...

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913864)

I hear ya! Serves these dumb-ass one sided, blinded, hate filled jerks right. Perhaps, instead of, say, covering one half of the story, the one that they like, the one that fits there little perfect America-bashing, socialistic, Marxist propaganda template, then maybe, just maybe, they would have some tiny shred of credibility left instead of what they have now which is a sold out shell of a machine pumping out the same hate and vitriol as the day before and the day after. Strangely enough, not everyone in America actually hates America, odd I know. And, stranger still, some of those people just don't want to read shit every day, or hear shit everyday from the same biased sources that run the TV, print, and radio news. If only there were a way to make these people report BOTH sides of the story....I have it! Let's call it the "Fairness Doctrine"....oh wait.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914044)

FYI: The news does not have sides. Politics does. But it has many more than the two sides you seem to think it has.

I know US news gives the impression that all news can only be cast in two lights -- liberal or conservative -- but that's a fallacy pushed to generate loyal viewers. If you were to read/watch the European press (particularly British, Irish, or Scandinavian) you might be pretty surprised. They comes across more as a stream of information, rather than the US press which comes across as pro/anti liberal/conservative ranting, even when the story has little to do with politics.

As an aside, I'm becoming increasingly irritated by the BBC website, as it seems to have stumbled across the American model for news -- a disappointing fraction of the news from that website now appears to be quite liberal in bias -- something which wasn't true ~5 years ago. Sad but true.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914342)

Very good points all around. Only problem comes with the liberal press clearly using their platform to push their political agenda. And, both sides do that way too much.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914002)

I think you're going to be surprised when you see how much stuff you would consider "america-hating propaganda" is filtered out by the corporate media... of course, in a world where you will be able to completely filter your own news input to only sources that agree with you, maybe you won't see it after all and very little will change for you.

Re:Ha Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914092)

I actually think the supposed bias is part of the problem that is making traditional news sources less viable. In an attempt to avoid the appearance of bias or other impropriety, news outlets jump through hoops to include all points of view on a subject. While that sounds reasonable at first, in practice it means that any moron with a point of view gets a mention. This dilutes the substance of the report and leaves the public with little more real information than before they started reading. News shouldn't just be reporting what people tell them, it should be evaluating the credibility of that information before passing it on to us. In many ways, blogs have taken over some of these functions. But rather than being neutral observers making reasoned judgments, blogs almost always have an agenda, and they are not in the same position to evaluate the truth of what's being reported because they are not receiving the information directly as news sources do. I think that in the future, successful newspapers will have to understand this and begin integrating real judgment into what they report.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

camperslo (704715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914194)

Good riddance to a slow, biased, anachronistic medium run by unethical America-hating propagandists. We'll find out how America is to blame for everything a lot faster from Slashdot and CNN.com from now on.

Bill Moyers and NOW on PBS has had several stories on the effects of media consolidation.
Diversity is a good thing. For some stories it really helps to have news organizations that have the resources to send someone somewhere to be on the ground and spend a lot of time. Newspapers have generally gone into much greater depth than commercial television news operations do, so they are an important resource. Individuals bring many important things to light, but there are also a number of important stories here that link back to major newspapers. The newspapers are still important even if it is someone else reading them and then mentioning the stories.

(I meant to submit the one from the NYT about huge numbers of bats perishing mysteriously... first the bees, and now the bats, what's up with that?)

Re:Ha Ha (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914408)

Thanks to craigslist, blogs, and YouTube for putting the news back in the hands of ordinary people. It may still be biased, but it's now biased every different way instead of just one.

Sure. And good luck with that. Here's a telling bit from the fine article:

Though Huffington has a news staff (it is tiny, but the hope is to expand in the future), the vast majority of the stories that it features originate elsewhere, whether in print, on television, or on someone's video camera or cell phone. The editors link to whatever they believe to be the best story on a given topic.

What you're proposing, or looking forward to, is a world where the news of the day is provided by pundits, camera crews, photographers, rumour mongers and and bloggers of all types. Dunno about you, but that defines news of the Entertainment Tonight variety, but without the budget for splashy graphics, music and over-paid anchors.

If the reality still escapes you, I'll put it in simpler terms. News comes from reporters. Employed by news organisations. Most of news organisations are .... wait for it ... newspapers.

No reporters, no news.

Re:Ha Ha (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914410)

The newspapers are run by people who support Bush and want to keep the corporations running the country. The people who work there tend to be more liberal, since they get out more, but they have only so much influence.

With all the flap about Obama's pastor, why isn't there news about the ultra-right-wing religious idiots that the Republican party likes? If a pastor claims that 9/11 is a result of US sinfulness in tolerating homosexuality, that's not news, and it isn't news that any Republican candidate gets buddy-buddy with the pastor. If a pastor claims that 9/11 is a result of US foreign policy actions, that is news, and anybody close to him will get blasted.

Who the heck cares what a President does to get laid? Somehow, it's far more newsworthy than what a President does to get us into a war, or violate Constitutional rights and the law on a large scale.

I first realized the media bias when USS Greeneville surfaced and sank Ehime Maru, killing Japanese high school students. If the civilians in the control room had been picked by Democrats, there would have been a large hue and cry about Democrats sinking schoolchildren. As it was, it was the sort of thing that got buried into the article.

I can go on, but the fact is that the people who run the newspapers, and control what they cover, have a very non-liberal bias, and, in current US fashion, they matter a lot more than the people who do the work (and frequently have a strong liberal bias).

Re:Ha Ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914520)

This baffles me - in London you can get a free morning daily and a choice of 3 evening dailies, plus a weekly sports paper - free of course, and the pay papers still seem to do OK as well. All have internet presence as well - they don't seem to be dying.

Thats not the only reason (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22913766)

Newspapers seem intent on feeding people bullshit created by the government and other parties. They would rather tell people what Britney or Paris is doing lately than what is really going on in the world.
They bury news that is unfavourable to the current government/advertisers/backers and rarely tell the whole truth any more.

Re:Thats not the only reason (1)

ijitjuice (666161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913876)

Hmm, guess the dailykos, wonkette, huffington, oreilly, hannity, limbaugh, drudge, tmz, cnet, et al are bringing people the truth and honesty the traditional media is lacking. Blogging sites are built for one purpose and one purpose only, pushing for page traffic. You think the press wants Britney news? No but the dumb asses in the country fiend for it, so they have someone else to laugh at other than themselves, be careful what you wish for, we may be in a state of partial misinformation, but i'd prefer that to lies generated just for the basis of page hits.

American-hating? (-1, Redundant)

Shaman (1148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913782)

Uhm.. you do realize that the U.S. is in practically every country in the world, throwing its weight around, killing off brown people at a horrendous rate, destabilizing governments and economies, and threatening nuclear war with its biggest peers?

I'd say that maybe America is to blame for a lot more than it'd like to admit.

Re:American-hating? (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913804)

That's right. America should be more racist and not kill people if they're brown.

Re:American-hating? (1)

Shaman (1148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913868)

Tell me where they're killing white people in large numbers? And don't assume that I'm not white myself, btw.

Take a peek at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeyrL2fxGAw [youtube.com]

Good luck seeing those protests on U.S. television or (more on point) in U.S. newspapers.

Re:American-hating? (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914240)

"Tell me where they're killing white people in large numbers?"

What does that have to do with you being ridiculous?

And are you kidding? Protests used to be in the papers and TV all the time, until the media figured out they weren't actually going to change anything.

I saw your video, and it was just film of protests with some hyperbole attached to the end. What was your point?

Re:American-hating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22913974)

I read some amazing pre-WWII rants that predicted this behavior, and suggested that we simply become isolationists and let the rest of the world go to hell. Obviously that didn't happen and this is the result, but who really has the right to complain about it?

Plus Ads (4, Interesting)

ericdano (113424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913794)

The papers in my area in California are at least 50% ads. In fact, on Tuesdays, they include this ad flyer in addition to the paper. On that day, the paper is about 70% ads then.

So, to make up for their lack of "real" content, the companies are sticking ads in there. Sad really.........I remember in the 80s that the newspaper had extremely few ads.......

Re:Plus Ads (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913898)

Not only ads, but coupons. I buy the local paper for the food coupons, they save me more than the cost of the paper. The paper [democratandchronicle.com] itself sucks, and I give it to my toddler to draw on.

Re:Plus Ads (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914028)

I get a free weekly newspaper that is mostly ads. So they aren't sticking the ads in their to make up for the lack of real content, they are getting paid to distribute the ads to you.

Re:Plus Ads (1)

ericdano (113424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914054)

That is different. A free paper, fine. Ads all the way. If I am subscribing, ie: PAYING, for a newspaper that is over 50% ads........then there is a problem. Knight Ridder is the parent company (or was). Since they took over the paper in 2001(?) or so, it has become an Ad fest!

Re:Plus Ads (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914648)

Sure. My point was more that the ads are about revenue, not content. They get paid to schlep the ads to your door, and they figure they make more doing so than they lose on subscribers who get sick of it and stop taking the paper.

I guess when you say "make up for lack..." you are talking about them not publishing anything interesting enough to draw in readers and I am just reading to narrowly.

The major papers are pussies. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22913802)

The major papers are wimps. They don't have the balls to bring up the real issues that matter. Then again, they really can't. For their very survival they need the expensive, full-page ads bought by the large, multinational corporations that are often partaking in the activities that need to be examined out in the open.

Then again, they need readers to look at those ads. But anyone with a tenth of a brain knows that what they read in the newspapers is crap, so they don't bother.

Looks like the papers are fucked no matter what they do.

On News (3, Insightful)

Upaut (670171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913830)

The problem is, most of the Newspapers just no longer try to report news, so much as sell it, and they have all merged (thanks to Murdoch, I suspect) into one single venue, just written towards different levels.

Right now the only papers I read in the morning are the Financial Times (which does not count as an American Paper for reports like this, right?) And once a week I get the Sunday Times from a newspaper importer. While I feel the Times has fallen harder then all the others, it still has my crossword, and gives me the Murdoch point of view for the world.

I mainly get my news from reading the BBC website daily, and 20 minutes on Slashdot.

Re:On News (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913918)

The problem is, most of the Newspapers just no longer try to report news,

This is a classic symptom of the FOX News Syndrome. It gets bad when it spreads to all media outlets. A community collapses when that happens.

caveat (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913860)

no media ever dies

television was supposed to kill both radio and the movies. well, we don't see movie news reels anymore, and we don't see radio serials either, but you can't watch tv while driving to work, and no one wants to see indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull in your parent's basement by yourself on a 19 inch monitor

what new media does do is dramatically alter the audience and purpose of old media. so newspapers will come to see the point where their income from online content will eclipse their income from print content. so then what is the purpose of newspapers without the actual newspaper?

one answer: trust

like the story summary suggests, user generated content sucks. in terms of quality and in terms of partisanship. so newspaper sites will still be the place people go for breaking news and truthful reporting. you can't beat a salaried professional news gathering organzation in terms of trust. nothing the internet can spew forth threatens that

the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless. usless to readers, not those who vent: that's the psychological value of catharsis. that is, user generated content is usually more useful for whomever is commenting than anyone who reads the comment. this form of online content obviously isn't a threat to anything newspaper's do, merely a weird ecological tweak to how they fit into the media universe. the internet makes newspapers part of a loud room of noisy feedback, rather than the lonely ivory towers they used to be

and so the newspaper will morph into a less prestigious role in society, but it will never die, and will still be vital in a modified way

Re:caveat (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914016)

the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless.

So have newspapers. I was reading an editorial in the WSJ about the how successful "the surge" allegedly is, and found it to stretch things and manipulate quotes. I decided to abandon it out of frustration. While moving my eyes away, I happened to glance at the author: "Karl Rove". R. Murdoch has Foxitized it, as feared.
       

you have a common misperception (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914250)

misperception #1:

once upon a time, all media was unbiased and neutral. then fox news came along and made it into propaganda. really? go into wikipedia and type "yellow journalism". read up on the uss maine and why the usa went to war with spain in 1898. you think the manipulating of facts to start a war is a new invention? please! story as old as time. every regime that has ever existed has engaged in this. go further back in history, all the way to the printing press, and earlier: there never has been, and never will be, such a thing as fair and balanced media (pun intended). ever. in any country. in any era. that ever was or ever will be

why?

that gets us to misperception #2:

that a neutral unbiased media is even possible. it is impossible. the media is made by human beings. all human beings are biased in one way or another. everyone has an agenda. those who claim they are not biased, or actually fervently believe they are not biased, are in fact probably the most biased of all: blind to one's own nature

so what does one do in a world with bias everywhere? answer: they develop a good bullshit detector

and making peace with this fact of biased media is actually a good thing, not a bad thing. do you honestly believe it is a better world where everyone just took something written by a media mouthpiece as solid gold truth, and never questioned it? isn't it better to have a well-read populace who disbelieves and doubts everything? and how do you train such a populace? you throw bias at them from every monitor and printed word, and you train their mind like a muscle to develop an extremely strong and sophisticated bullshit detector

those who argue for censorship do so in the name of preventing the spreading of lies, from the right or the left. but when they do this, they actually show little faith in the general populace. they don't save the populace from themselves this way, they merely breed zombies and sheep. in the name of preventing lies, they create the environment for more lies. this is the true value of free speech: a darwinian competition of ideas. to let out all of it, all the bullshit, let it all be spoken. even the biggest lies and the most vile words. in this way, the general populace can decide for themselves, and you get a general populace that values critical thought. you never get critical thought in a society where unbiased media existed. in fact there is societies today where "unbiased" media exists: iran, china, russia, etc.: the places where freedoms are the least. and the people there, unfortunately, have very weakly developed bullshit detectors, and are therefore prone to the kind of pies manipulation and propaganda that makes your concerns over fox news look quaint. just look at china's one sided coverage of tibet: all they show is ethnic colonial han getting attacked. as if that is all that is going on and the tibetans aren't being attacked! propaganda. half-truth. beijing understands the idea very well

a world of biased media everywhere is actually SUPERIOR: it trains the minds of the general public to have a healthy bullshit meter. so while some people lament things like fox news, i, as a liberal in the deepest sense of the word liberal, am thankful for fox news. because fox news serves as a cautionary tale, an innoculation device. it weans people off propaganda, by being propaganda. fox news is a training device fro stronger minds to overcome. and for all those who believe fox news 100% and look no further for the "truth": do you honestly believe that in a world of "unbiased" media they would be flower children? no. a right winger is not made. it's like being gay. their minds are just made that way ;-P

Re:you have a common misperception (1)

ROU Nuisance Value (253171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914522)

All this assumes that the US population as a whole were still able to think and had working bullshit detectors. If that were true, idiots like Tim Russert, Chris Mathews, Joe Klein, Bill Kristol, Britt Hume, and Charles Krauthammer -- all of whom have demonstrated obscene levels of bias and been consistently wrong about practically EVERYTHING for almost a decade -- would be laughed off the stage.

your comment asumes something (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914580)

that all of the people, all of the time, have functioning bullshit detectors. or that is ever possible

random demagogues exist in every society, because they satisfy a portion of the audience. but they don't appeal to all of the audience, NOR can the audience be completely innoculated against the efforts of demagogues

so you have to make peace with the fact that a large portion of any human society is populated with people with permanently broken or nonfunctional bullshit detectors. and this will always be true, if you respect the notion of free will. which is a much greater thing to value than absolute adherence to some arbitrary bullshit detector standard

put your faith in the large, mostly silent majority of people who can sniff bullshit out when they hear it/ see it. they exist, they really do, and they are self-replicating in a society that values freedom of the press and freedom of expression. they're will is not always expressed unaltered by their government, but again, we live in an imperfect world. we can only approximate the higher standards we are discussing here. all we can do is try harder to approximate better

Re:caveat (1)

snarkh (118018) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914324)


First, I think you have op-ed in mind, not the editorial.

Murdoch may have many faults but this is not one of them. The op-ed pages in WSJ
have been notoriously conservative for a long time.

Re:caveat (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914394)

>I was reading an editorial in the WSJ bout the how successful "the surge" allegedly is

Do you know what an editorial is?

Trust? (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914090)

Newspapers provide an illusion of trust, but too much of the time that's all it is. An illusion. The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

There aren't as many total lunatics in newsrooms, maybe, but reporters and editors all have their agendas no matter how much they want to hide it, and the veneer of objectivity washes away as soon as you see a story in the paper where you actually know some of the facts, where you know enough to tell if they're objective or accurate.

The biggest difference between the Internet and the papers is that here you get to see all the political sausage-making out in the open... not hidden in the editor's office and the story room.

we have the same beliefs, but different conclusion (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914300)

unbiased neutral media is NEVER possible. it's a theoretical ideal, not an actual real world achievable. all you can do is approximate the truth, come as close as humanly possible

and so what you call an illusion of trust i would relabel as an honest attempt at trust. while meanwhile, a lot fo the free-for-all stuff you find on the internet doesn't even try to be impartial. that's a HUGE difference

you unfairly place newspapers in the same category as outright propagandizers. a newspaper TRIES to be impartial. a propagandizer purposely tries NOT to be truthful. there's a really a big difference right there. people should appreciate that difference. because, in fact, propagandizers win when no one sees a difference between a propagandizer and a genuine news oultet. so in the name of fighting propaganda, you should try to recognize the difference

don't groups newspapers with propaganda outlets simply because it is impossible to be 100% neutral. all media exists on a gradient of bias, from 90% unbiased to 10% unbiased. simply because 100% unbiased can never exist in a world of fallible humans, that is no valid reason for you to group the 90% unbiased news source in with the 10% unbiased news source

Re:we have the same beliefs, but different conclus (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914560)

what you call an illusion of trust i would relabel as an honest attempt at trust.

Whether they are honest or not (and you know, I hope, they aren't always honest) doesn't change the fact that the result is an illusion. I've blogged about that before... the chain from the witnesses and primary sources to the front page is often a game of telephone. The difference is that when it happens on a blog you get to see the whole thing, and can go back to find where the fellow turned "The Bugblatter Beast makes a good meal of visiting tourists" into "The Bugblatter Beast makes a good meal for visiting tourists".

Whether they're honest or not, their biases inform their idea of what impartiality means. A reporter on Fox News and a reporter at Pacifica Radio may both think they're being impartial, but they're not.

And, again, they're NOT always honest. And, again, whether they are or not... the result is the same. You shouldn't trust what you read in the newspapers any more than you should trust what you read on the Internet. The difference is that on the Internet you CAN get more of the information you need to inform your own best attempt at an unbiased opinion.

http://scarydevil.com/~peter/io/harlan.html [scarydevil.com] (1998)
http://scarydevil.com/~peter/io/bunk.html [scarydevil.com] (2004)
http://scarydevil.com/~peter/io/cringe.html [scarydevil.com] (2006)

yeah but (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914646)

if you insist on using the word illusion, can we ever have any better than this illusion? you seem to be pointing to the fundamental cracks in human communication. couples often have the same goals, and wind up fighting due to miscommunication. if they can't swing it, how can you expect a human organization to do any better?

i think you need to make peace with the fundamental failings of human communication. your "illusion" is just another way to say "miscommunication exists", and always will, REGARDLESS of malicious intent

and what you attribute to malicious intent, i attribute to accident. people are not so malicious. of course malicious intent DOES exist, people DO manipulate communication. but again, can you honestly expect us to do any better? how the heck do you identify subtle malicious intent in miscommunication, and actually get rid of it? make peace with it if it is not too egregious, as just the background noise of life that will always be with us no matter what

Re:Trust? (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914358)


The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

I don't think most journalists like to admit this, but I think you're actually right.

The BIG difference between the newspaper writers and the bloggers is funding and resources. How many bloggers are there embedded in Iraq for instance? How many have the resources, capital, lawyers, and clout to investigate Watergate, or The Pentagon Papers? I don't recall hearing about any bloggers able to get into the white house press room (but hey, traditional journalists haven't exactly been all that great when they ARE there).

Journalists like to downplay the bloggers as cub-reporters, and bloggers like to imagine they're bringing the REAL information to the people, unfiltered, unedited, blah, blah blah. Both opinions are an exaggeration.

My point is that the bloggers aren't going to ever replace professional journalists. There's some stories that just can't be done by a guy doing a little research after work and on weekends.

Re:Trust? (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914452)

The BIG difference between the newspaper writers and the bloggers is funding and resources. How many bloggers are there embedded in Iraq for instance?

Counting the Iraqi bloggers, military bloggers, and contractors?

How many have the resources, capital, lawyers, and clout to investigate Watergate, or The Pentagon Papers?

How many newspapers have done that kind of investigative reporting in the past 20 years? If they had been doing it a few years ago, we might not be in Iraq in the first place.

I don't recall hearing about any bloggers able to get into the white house press room (but hey, traditional journalists haven't exactly been all that great when they ARE there).

Not yet, no, but that's not because they don't have the resources. If it was just money someone would have bought their way in by now. It's because they're not seen as reporters, kind of a catch-22 situation.

My point is that the bloggers aren't going to ever replace professional journalists.

I don't know if they will be able to or not. The more interesting question is, will they have to do it anyway?

Re:Trust? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914584)

Newspapers provide an illusion of trust, but too much of the time that's all it is. An illusion.

Interesting comment, but isn't the very nature of trust intangible?

The people working for the newspapers aren't all that different from the people writing blogs.

Individually, perhaps, but collectively, no. Reporters have the benefit of being schooled and trained, and the nature of their assignments is proportional to their competence, experience, and reputation. There's that "trust" thing, again. Add to that layers of fact-checkers, editors and everyone else all the way up the chain to the general public, and I'd say you've got a fairly good system that ensures a reporter remains a reporter and not a blogger.

An imperfect system at times, perhaps, but what isn't? Either way, a million web surfers might help a blogger discover and make known occasional inaccuracies in reported news, or tidbits of additional information, but that hardly compares to the what's required to cover the news of the day. News that a functioning democracy requires.

Re:caveat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914206)

no media ever dies


Exactly! Now pardon me while I get back to transferring my collection of wax cylinder recordings to 8-track, and labeling them with clay tablets.

ok ;-) (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914348)

vinyl still has a following, because there will be always be audiophiles who like analog media over digital media (wax cylinder is a form of analog recording like vinyl)

8-track is a form of magnetic media. and there will always be environments where recording magnetic media will make sense because of economic or space considerations

and clay tablets are just a form of writing directly to permanent hard substances. a "clay" (or rather stone) tablet will lie above you when you rest eternally 6 feet down. so that form of media is not going away either, literally ;-)

Re:ok ;-) (1)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914544)

Are you sure it's not just the nostalgia of hearing the "crackle" noises in the background? Or holding an objects that is larger and somehow "more real" than tose pesky little CD's or, those impersonal data-streams we know as an MP3? Or even than people just associate the vinyl with an age where music sounde just so much better than this crap we're hearing today?

Emotional value has to count for something... and with music I want to maintain that it is actually MORE IMPORTANT than the technological advances.

Re:caveat (1)

ROU Nuisance Value (253171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914280)

Good points all, and I don't necessarily disagree with any of them. But:
1. Let's not forget that what we're talking about here is a kind of enterprise that depends on certain economies of scale. You cannot produce a real newspaper without running a geographically dispersed network of trained professionals. Doing that is very expensive, so you must have a mass of customers to support it. Newspapers are therefore essentially a form of mass media, and simply will not work as a business proposition once that mass audience is sufficiently eroded. Yeah, Gibson's Law is true: Media, like any other kind of technology, never really die. But many technologies (from the model T to the celluloid collar) are of craft or historical interest only once their rationale for mass production dies.
2. I agree that there will continue to be demand for trustworthy information generated according to some professional standard, and that current blogosphereic media mostly don't meet that need for all the reasons you outline. But will that trusty info be packaged as something resembling the kind of newspapers we know today? With the business model eroded below a sustainable level, I really don't see how it can.
3. Looking at the evolution of American newspapers, I think we're much more likely to see an expansion of weblogs on the model of 1980s-era oil-industry newsletters, where one or more insiders who obviously know what's up are either writing (or working with pro editors and writers to write) the news in their area of expertise, for a small audience of near-insiders who are in a position to understand what's trustworthy and what's bull or speculation. But sooner or later, that raises questions of bias and trust. The more "mass" version of this will be a "Poor Richards Almanac" kind of publication, where Uncle Ben tells you all kinds of stuff, along with what he considers the news. None of this, however, addresses the need for trustworthy info. We know that a "Poor Dick's Alamanac", with Uncle Dick Cheney on the masthead, knows what's really going on in the Vice President's office. But would you actually trust such a publication to tell you the truth?
4. Which gets to the essential question: What the heck does it mean for a publication to have your trust? A lot of the contribution of amateur web media over the last 8 years has been to erode public trust in professional media. Rathergate and Media Matters for America are just two among dozens of examples of this (if you're like me, you can also point to Fox News Channel as an example of pro media eroding trust in pro media). Whether you believe any of them accurate or not, or think they have been a bane or beneficial, they represent lines of enterprise reporting with huge audiences in their own right. They're having a strong effect on the way many pros approach stories, and thus on what constitutes media "trust".

BTW: Thanks for a thoughtful, literate post on slashdot. I didn't think such a thing was still possible. Wish I had mod points to give you.

thanks for the compliment (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914482)

those are even more scarce on slashdot than thoughtful literate posts ;-)

replying to your numbers:

1. consolidation. it is inevitable. so while there might be 100,000 newspapers today (arbitrary) there will be 10,000 tomorrow, and 1,000 in a decade or two

2. yes: we are in the realm of the weirdness of the newspaper without the newspaper. but this is more of a semantic difference than a real world stumbling block to the evolution of newspapers. more broadly, television news and radio news are all under this kind of pressure as newspapers. i bring this up to show that today, cnn means "cable news network", but if cnn still exists in 2108, it won't be on cable. cnn in 2108 will merely mean "news brand of some trust" in the mind of listeners/ readers/ haptic esp device empathitors ;-P kind of like coca cola: there's no cocaine in coca cola today, but that's no reason to change the name: everyone trusts the brand. so in the future, "new york times" and "atlanta journal constitution" will merely be brand names associated with a certain level of trust, regardless of the actual media being used

3. i view it as a kind of segmentation and expansion of the mediaverse. today, our newspapers show breaking news, opinion, in depth reporting, etc. added to this function is the new one user feed back (well actually, i guess that's letters to the editor, so not so new after all). what will happen is that the single monolithic function of a newspaper will fragment into a million pieces, each piece the domain of some sort of specialist. like slashdot aggregates, perez hilton does gossip, politico does political ruminations, etc. and the all purpose newspaper will atrophy, until it is left with the one vital piece it still has a monopoly on in the emerging mediaverse: news reporting. facts on the ground, breaking events. blogs can't do that. or they can try to do that, and therefore turn into a newspaper in the process

4. http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=504748&cid=22914300 [slashdot.org]

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=504748&cid=22914250 [slashdot.org]

Re:emptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914426)

no media ever dies
Tell that to my last hard drive.

But seriously folks, my local paper is a thin rag on Mondays, and actually somewhat interesting once the week's news has filtered in by Thursday/Friday. Why else do newspapers offer "weekender" subscriptions?

Do we really need to have this much newsprint sloughed off presses every single day?

Re:caveat (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914458)

Capitalization and punctuation seem to have suffered in your area.

Re:caveat (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914588)

the internet has merely created lots of partisan fiefdoms with an agenda and user venting. much of it rambling, illiterate, unhinged, and mostly useless. usless to readers, not those who vent: that's the psychological value of catharsis. that is, user generated content is usually more useful for whomever is commenting than anyone who reads the comment.

Thank goodness we don't have that on /. :-)

I wonder (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913882)

As wonderful as it is that the power is returning to the people, that you no longer have to be a media titan to get the news out, I wonder if it really is going to help us any.

Big Media - hardly anyone pays attention because so much is filtered to only provide what isn't really important or that will help keep us fat dumb and happy.

Internet Media - hardly anyone pays attention because so much is produced by people who are fat dumb and happy and it becomes virtually impossible to sort out the crap.

The internet has given everyone a voice, unfortunately we have no real way to stop the most vocal idiots from using it or to sort out their crap. Before ANYONE even attempts to debunk this as stupid things are easy to squash...let me remind you of such popular ideas as Creationism, the 6000yr old earth, and the frighteningly stupid idea that the sun moves around the earth. All of those have reasonably large followings and continue to spread.

Mullet strategy? (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913886)

We have a new name for 'long tail'. Good riddance!

Amount of newspaper ads as an economic measure. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22913888)

The percentage of the total content of a newspaper that is ads has long been a measure of the vitality of a region's economy. During a strong economy, there are fewer newspaper ads. This is because people have more wealth to spend on goods, including newspapers themselves. The newspapers can charge more for each paper sold, thus reducing their dependence on funding from advertisers. Likewise, advertisers do not need to advertise as much, as people are often more willing to make purchases when the economy is strong, thus leading to suitable levels of sales without much advertising.

On the other hand, when the economy is poor, people aren't as willing to consume. So companies need to advertise more to incite people to buy more. People aren't willing to pay as much for newspapers, so the newspapers must look to advertisers as an extra revenue stream.

Look at American newspapers from the 1950s, when the economy was very strong. There are extremely few ads. Then skip ahead to the mid-1970s, and today. In terms of the page area used for advertising, it's typically around 70% to 80%. It's often higher for magazines, where it has become difficult to distinguish articles from ads.

Re:Amount of newspaper ads as an economic measure. (1)

euler2323 (717284) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914572)

The ratio of advertising to editorial content is normally fixed. Over the years, as the business men took over the papers from newspaper men, the ratio has tilted toward more advertising. Newspaper men was more cautious to avoid the appearance of influence from the advertisers. Business don't give a damn, and want to rake in more cash per page.

IMO, this is the reason papers are going down the tube. The did not want to spent any money developing new products, or new ways to deliver the news they produce. Then they got caught behind the curve, and now are hurting because advertising is chasing the more effective medium - internet.

When papers were trying to cut paper/ink costs, they should have been investing in producing web sites. When papers were trying to cut costs by reducing news room staffs, they should have been diverting effort to making the 'go to' site for local news. When papers were trying to jam a 10% price increase every 9 months on classified advertising, they should have developed a real craigs-list competitor. This isn't to say they shouldn't make the current print product more efficient.

Now papers are expecting the same huge profit margins it enjoyed in the last 50 years, they just cannot admit that times have changed and will not accept what they are worth. After they've gutted every newsroom, they have no ability to produce content younger people are interested in.

"Journalism" will survive, and I'm sure the printed paper will be around forever - perhaps not daily. But, when everyone can views news on cellphones/work pc's/home pc's/ etc... they will not waist their time on getting a printed product.

Oh, and you're very wrong about the advertising going down during the good times. When the mom & pop store is making less money, they arent' going to pay the huge cost to use newspaper advertising.

mullet strategy (2, Insightful)

orionop (1139819) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913892)

It sounds just like slashdot...
only with professional editing.

Everything in moderation (1)

jayemcee (605967) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913906)

Having professional editors is great, but there has to be talent to create the content that the bloggers inevitably rip to shreds. The Guardian Unlimited has had bloggers eviscerating their talent for well over a year now http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/ [guardian.co.uk] and it's been interesting to see how the writers react to the bloggers comments, this type of journalism will require thicker skin than the walls of the editor's office or down at the bar where such criticism might previously have been leveled. I can just see the former path of the newspaper delivery boy in the worst part of town becoming a page one writer changing to the poor just out of journalism school guy being told to moderate the blogs until something better opens up. 5 moderation points is quite enough pain at one time for me :)

Wow! (0, Troll)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913908)

I honestly wasn't aware that there were any newspapers in America.

I thought that they were all tabloids.

I stopped reading at (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913922)

"The American newspaper (and the nightly newscast) is designed to appeal to a broad audience, with conflicting values and opinions, by virtue of its commitment to the goal of objectivity. Many newspapers, in their eagerness to demonstrate a sense of balance and impartiality, do not allow reporters to voice their opinions publicly, march in demonstrations, volunteer in political campaigns, wear political buttons, or attach bumper stickers to their cars."

If you ever have seen the documentary Spin or just really paid attention you know the mainstream media including the newspaper is as far away as you can get from "objective." It annoys me that they and the nightly news toot their own horn with that BS every chance they get -- and unfortunately they are fooling a few others.

If they want to pretend that they don't shape the news, fine, but I think that's a big reason why people are leaving in droves to get better news online.

Netcraft? (1, Redundant)

Chonine (840828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913924)

Has netcraft confirmed this?

Have you recycled a blog lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22913946)

The ugly truth about the "newspapers are dying" meme is that blogs mostly get their material from newspapers. Then repeat is enauseum.

There's no news in there (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22913972)

Of course nobody is reading newspapers any more. There's so little news in them.

In the SF area papers, the "Food and Wine" section is thicker than the "News" section, and the "Cars" section is thicker than both together. What's the point? Especially since, if that's what you want, there are better sources for information about food, wine, cars, sports, and classified advertising.

The whole point of newspapers is that they send people out to dig up stories, and you pay to read the results. That's fine. As advertising-delivery vehicles, they're obsolete.

Re:There's no news in there (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914216)

The whole point of newspapers is that they send people out to dig up stories, and you pay to read the results.

Oh boy, I get to PAY to read stories about women, minorities, and gays pretending they're victims, and that global warming is to blame, which is because of oil, which is because of George Bush.

Thank you Boston Globe!

Re:There's no news in there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914464)

Oh boy, I get to PAY to read stories about women, minorities, and gays pretending they're victims, and that global warming is to blame, which is because of oil, which is because of George Bush.

Notice how often their articles, editorials, and letters are written by rich Jewish people telling poor and working class Christians that they aren't being Christians the right way.

Re:There's no news in there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914272)

It's happening here too. In South Florida we have the Miami Herald and Sun Sentinel. Neither were bad newspapers in their day. They have had some Pulitzer Prize winning pieces and some decent journalism sprinkled amongst the ads. The problem I have with them is that they've tried so hard to appeal to different niche populations as part of their localization that they are now completely irrelevant to me. The "news" that they now have is sadly late. If I want sports scores (and I never do) I can go online. If I want movie times, I go online.

Now I really and truly don't care what a person makes, where they're from, what their orientation (religious, sexual, political, etc.), but it would be nice once in a while to read a story about my interests. Instead there are stories about a mom who complained because she'd been upset with a store that wouldn't refund her money. I don't care that Jennifer Lopez was on South Beach. I don't care what Madonna ate for breakfast.

Journalists are the problem (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914006)

Well, when people graduate from journalism school, and the reason that they became journalists is to "change the world", then that's a pretty different idea from just reporting the news as it happens, yah? When the idea is to use your position to change the world, your readers will figure out your biases sooner or later. And I'm not even getting into the monoculture of ideas and poverty of thought so prevalent in the modern newsroom. Have a try at this newsroom game and see if you make the right decisions [maynardije.org] . If you fail at the game, then you'll understand why newspapers are failing today.

Call me when my rabbit can crap on the internets.. (4, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914110)

Every Sunday I get both the New York Times and LA Times delivered. I like to sit and drink coffee and read a newspaper on Sunday morning. Now, I could do that on my laptop, or desktop, or a Kindle, but here's the important quality of dead-tree based newspapers: Once I'm done reading them, their combined size is perfect to line the bottom of my rabbit's cage, and for the next week, he gets to crap on All the News That's Fit to Print.

Until my bunny can defecate on the internets, I'll keep on subscribing to old fashioned newspapers.

Do people prefer already-digested news? (5, Insightful)

Morris Thorpe (762715) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914122)

First, let me say that I realize there is much media bias.

However, it seems to me that people in the U.S. are increasingly divided. We want our viewpoints affirmed - not challenged. When was the last time you heard someone say or write "That makes sense. Maybe I'm wrong."

When I worked as a reporter, I always judged my job on controversial issues by the number of complaints I got from both sides. If they were nearly evenly divided, I knew I did well. Those I offended used almost exactly the same wording except for changing x for y in their complaints.

Maybe people are giving up newspaper for blogs because they want to hear the digested version of a story. Skip the thinking and just go to the umbrage.

Re:Do people prefer already-digested news? (1)

catseye (96076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914558)

I don't have much to add, but I wish I had mod points to reward you. You get it, at a profound level. The collapse of the newspaper industry is a symptom, not necessarily a cause, of a scary shift in the general public's willingness to be challenged at any level, and it's largely new media that couches its success and drive for audience by serving that destructive desire.

Indian papers - going the dreadlock strategy... (2, Interesting)

sskang (567081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914142)

...not sure what other hair style could represent "party all over." The reduction in the quality of the major newspapers in India over the last decade is startling. I don't know whose fault it is though - maybe sports, fashion, lifestyle nonsense and celebrity gossip is all people actually _want_ to read in a newspaper. The Times of India, which used to be pretty good, is truly shameful.

Internet finishes what media consolidation started (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914162)

The consolidation of Big Media [corporations.org] over the last few decades put newspapers on this path. Americans bitch and moan about how the media is either too liberal or too conservative, but that misses the point. Americans may have allowed our government to loosen ownership rules, but we're mistrustful of a handful of companies controlling access to all news and opinions. When the mass-market Internet arrived, people realized they could find news and opinions that weren't being provided by the news oligarchs.

People want to hear independent voices, even though those voices are often screwed-up, looney, and unprofessional. We've all grown used to sifting the wheat from the chaff online.mThe really good newspapers that are providing high-quality reporting and are well-managed [kk.org] will still survive. The rest of them won't, but new forms of news will continue to germinate on the Internet.

Local News (3, Informative)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914168)

I live in a small (Pawtucket could kick its ass) rural community. If you want to know about what is going on around here there are 2 places to look, the local newspaper and the bulletin board at the local IGA.

The Newspaper has a cute little 1995 style website, but it is less comprehensive than the paper.

That said, I rarely care what is going on around here, and therefore buy the paper nearly never. Although I do scan the headlines at the convenience store.

The web allows me to read the NYTimes, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, The BBC and a thousand blogs a week. I love new media, but Ii still respect the old guild.

if only the Fourth Estate would: (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914174)

1. be responsible
2. shed light on public interests
3. be independent
4. strive for truth and accuracy
5. be impartial
6. engage in fair play and respect

- as it is today, the media, print and broadcast, have not followed these principles... with the EXCEPTION, IMHO, of one print outlet:

The Christian Science Monitor

- what we are seeing is a loss of trust and respect on the part of readers and viewers...

- and i also agree with other posters lamenting the lack of good, solid local reporting... :-(

On NO! (1)

MeMeMeMe (1073430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914180)

What will I line the parakeet cage with?

mo3 d0wn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914256)

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Newspapers are as usefull as buggy whips (1)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914262)

I read 4 newspapers on a regular basis because my university has this program where students get free papers. I suppose it is to try to get them in the habit of reading them but none of my students seems to be doing so. I get the school paper, the NY Times, USA Today, and the local newspaper. First off, large percentages of their contend are the same. Same wire stories. Same sports scores, same stock prices. That same content that is already online and available for free.

Then there is all the crap that I personally don't care about. Sports, horoscopes, Dear Abby, comic strips whose creators died decades ago, and other stuff.

So what does that leave? local news, editorials, letters to the editor, original reporting.

It takes me about 20 minutes to go through all of those papers. If they weren't free there is no way I would ever subscribe to a newspaper. It simply isn't worth it.

Hitting home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914264)

My father was laid off on Thursday from an 18000 regional circulation daily newspaper published in a town of 30,000 residents. Mid six figure losses and a need to tighten the financial belt were the true reasons for the action, but in a shameless attempt to prevent my father from drawing unemployment, the official reason is lack of necessary skills to operate the newspaper press. Indeed, the entire industry is circling the drain. Some even seem to be running down it as quickly as possible.

Heh, captcha: paperer

how's science/math in your newspaper(s)? (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914270)

what greatly annoys me in belgian newspapers, is that even in what's considered our best newspaper (not most popular, but with best content, ... and very little sports ), i can hardly get through a single copy without finding math mistakes, or scientific things being reported...
i've seen things pass like the title saying A out of B is ... and then the article saying it's B out of A. a nice article mentioning the poisonous fumes from asbestos (you mean tiny dust particles that are dangerous?), simple math mistakes like "nearly 2 out of 3", and another newspaper then mentioning it's 69%, and worst of all, most of the times they use meaningless numbers (usually numbers relative to something unknown, or numbers without the slightest background of what's normal, or as frequently laughed with here on slashdot, numbers in the most imaginative units...)

how is it in other countries? are there any newspapers that are capable of presenting numbers and scientific facts in good, comprehensive, meaningful ways? or will the people of the word always be very weak at math/science, and are they too stuck up to hire someone who is good at it to verify their work to remove most of those mistakes?

and same goes for informatics ofcourse (like the site of our best newspaper announcing that "Windows launches Vista", after half an hour they fixed it to "Microsoft launches Vista"... still, how hard can it be to actually make sure you have the slightest clue what you're talking about...

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914340)

Of course media is dying. Why? Because it sucks.

Newspapers and their websites are full of advertisement.
The news are often bad, and not-neutral or objective. Small things are often blown out of proportion while important things are left ignored.
On some of their sites like NY Times you must pay/login to read, and stupid stuff like that.

They often write about celebrities and crap like that instead of world news.

"Blog at 11" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914368)

I wonder how many kids on the site know that this is a reference to the old practice of the TV news saying stuff like,

"A riot explodes downtown. Film at 11."

They'd say this during their news teasers because it would take a few hours for the 16mm film they shot of the riot to be developed and transferred to video so that it could be shown on the 11 o'clock news. Yes, we're talking film.

And that's one to grow on!

Why newspapers suck (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914382)

I stopped reading newspapers because their extreme editorializing in news stories got out of hand. They can't even pretend to be objective. This is not a left-wing or right-wing specific problem. It is across the board.

Example, yesterday I saw headlines saying the recent attack by Iraqi forces against an extremist's militia was having problems and would probably fail. That's not telling the news. That's stating an opinion. As far as I can tell, this view was based on the Iraqi request for air support in a particularly tough spot.

Today the extremist told his followers to lay down their arms. Yeah, doomed to failure.

Re:Why newspapers suck (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914658)

Up until after WWII, most American newspapers were extremely biased, much more than Fox News/CNN or whatever. As towns and cities saw fewer and fewer publishers, the news became much more "unbiased." In their zeal to become all things to all people, they end up pleasing no one.

Let's Clarify. (3, Insightful)

hullabalucination (886901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914400)

Let's be clear here. To the New York Times and every Internet blogger who fancies themselves the Times-killer, all American newspapers are publicly-traded, big city dailies.

Unfortunately for the Internet, this isn't even close to being true. I've personally helped start several small-town weeklies/dailies in my area (I do Websites as well, so no bias here), and although one startup over the past 5 years has folded, we've got a net gain in my county of two community newspapers over what we had in 2002. Plus one very high-end magazine aimed at folks with $100K+ annual incomes. And this is not unusual across the U.S., where small community publications are still going strong.

The real story is that the Internet, over the past decade, has failed completely as a local news/information delivery system to the average consumer. And, bear in mind that although the Internet is good at delivering on my $1,000 computer, at much higher cost and bother, what my $30.00 radio delivers every day for little cost or bother — national/international news briefs — it's next to impossible to find out what's happening in my town on the Internet in any detail or in a timely fashion. And, lo and behold, what few sources that do exist to find out are, (are you ready, now?) those put up by — you guessed it — my local community newspapers. And those sites normally only have "teaser" versions of the story. You have to subscribe to the Dead Tree Edition to get the full story. Very clever, no?

Now, this is not merely academic to me. I own a small advertising agency. I absolutely can not get my local businesses to do much advertising on the Web, other than building their own Websites (another interesting topic, but not for this post). Sorry, but they're just not interested in reaching folks in Botswana and Poland. Can you blame them? The overwhelming majority of American businesses (according to the US Dept. of Labor/Census Bureau) are small businesses, defined as having less than 100 employees. The much-glorified Huffington Post is completely useless to most all of my 300+ small-business clients, as is the New York Times. Without advertisers willing to spend on the Web, Web news sources will stay pretty much as they are now — Digg with the same rehashes of UPI/AP/Reuters feeds, repeated ad nauseum with posters trying desperately to add a sentence or two summary spin to the canned article hoping to reach the site's front page. Internet News is depressingly incestuous, sketchy, amateurish, and a couple of hours behind my local NPR radio station.

What media pundits seem to be missing out on is that the American consumer is more and more interested in what's happening in his own county/town/neighborhood and less and less interested in what is happening in The Big City or on the other side of the planet. We're getting less centralized, folks. Most of the US population has been diffusing from the big cities and spreading out into the surrounding countryside for the past few decades. I'm here to tell you that the Big City Daily has been dying since the 60's, mostly due to cable television news channels and the advent of 24-hour all-news radio. I'm in a rural county just on the edge of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Sprawloplex, and we've got no less than three 24/7 all-talk radio stations who are getting their quota of advertisers, last time I checked. Plus two 24/7 all-sports stations. Yes, they stream on the Web. No, it's not an income source for most, but a loss-leader supported by over-the-air broadcasting.

I do think that eventually, most all news will be delivered via network. In about 30-50 years. Right now, Google and the porn industry notwithstanding, nobody has really figured out how to make money off the Internet in the more localized news market, where the majority of advertisers (small business) and consumers are. We've got several itty-bitty print publications in my county that can draw enough revenue to pay for professional writers, designers, photographers, etc. Not a single local community Web portal (out of about six I tracked over the past 10 years) managed to survive longer than 6 months, which means that they simply lasted until the founder ran out of his personal reserves then had to give it up. They just didn't attract enough advertisers.

The Web should have killed print publishing about seven years back, but what we got instead was an Internet bubble burst which essentially killed off advertising-supported Internet content. Nobody seems to really know why things happened the way they did, and now my clients are increasingly ditching the PC for a smart phone, which is going to make the Web very much suck as a consumer-grabbing medium. It'll be an interesting next decade.

Re:Let's Clarify. (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914626)

Most local newspaper sites update once per day, or even less. There are several tv news sites that are starting to get it, although they are thin on content. Where they need to start to look is at the stories that don't make it to the print edition (or broadcast, in the case of TV news), and update when a story is completed, not at a predetermined time.

It's called progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22914456)

There are many trends in here, user generated content is the least of the issues. Its the demise of the talk down culture and self styled experts defining the agenda on news and opinion. Mass media's ability to drive trends and opinion and manufacture consensus has been severely curtailed by the internet. There is too much accountability on the internet and people expect it with any media they consume, no more nonsense masquerading as informed opinion just because its printed or read out is some newsrooms. Thought leaders, analysts, reporters, poseurs all are threatened.

The media response has been typically shortsighted, dumbing down and catering to an imagined audience who want to consume without thinking when everything suggests the opposite. The quality of talent itself is questionable and the merit of articles with gross generalizations, over reliance on PR and trend manufacturing are in equal part responsible for the current decline. There will always be a place or solid journalism, reporting, analysis and investigation but the current media just do not have the depth for this.

This is happening in radio and cellular too.. (1)

Newer Guy (520108) | more than 6 years ago | (#22914630)

This is happening to radio too, which is why the big Clear Channel buyout might not close. The buyout price is 39.70 a share, yet Clear Channel has been traded as low as 25 dollars recently-38% less then the buyout price. Recently, an FM station in Los Angeles sold for 137 million dollars-113 million less then the last one did a couple of years ago-46 percent less.

Seems to me that this is right in line with the newspaper valuations you have mentioned.

It's also happening in cellular-why just look at Sprint-at the time of their merger, Sprint and Nextel were each worth about 35 billion. Today, the combined company is only valued at 25 billion.

I think the reason is stockholder greed. Stockholders expect stock to ALWAYS go up-which forces management to make choices based on short term gains-and at the expense of bigger losses in the long term. Until this "next quarter's guidance" mentality ends, you're going to see even more companies hit the skids.
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