Thursday, April 30, 2009

Broken News and the Climate Science Memo

I read a piece of front page breaking news. It didn't feel powerful or interested or questioning or humble enough. And I thought of this...

I left at a time...when the Baltimore Sun was earning 37 percent profits...

All that R&D money that was supposed to go in to make newspapers more essential, more viable, more able to explain the complexities of the world. It went to shareholders in the Tribune Company. Or the L.A. Times Mirror Company before that. And ultimately, when the internet did hit, they had an inferior product that was not essential enough that they could charge online for it...

The internet, while it's great for commentary and froth, doesn't do very much first generation reporting at all. And it can't sustain that. The economic model can't sustain that kind of reporting. And to lose to that, because you didn't value - they had contempt for their own product, these people. I mean, you give it away for free?

But, for 20 years, they looked upon the copy as being the stuff that went around the ads. The ads were the God. And then all of a sudden the ads were not there, and the copy, they had had contempt for. And they had - they had actually marginalized themselves.

That's David Simon, creator of The Wire, in an interview with Bill Moyers.

And I realize it's a stretch to make that connection.


I think it's worth noting that Andy Revkin, the journalist that wrote that front page article, also blogged about the edited memo.* And his posts, in my opinion, are much more powerful than his front page story.

But maybe I'm just a sucker for the vernacular.

Or maybe another way newspapers marginalized themselves (and continue to marginalize themselves) was (is) by clinging to a communication style that's aggressively non-conversational.

And now I've changed the subject, so now I'm going to stop. For tonight.

I'm still convinced there is something in here, though. Something.

*Note: And also worth noting that he gets paid to blog. By the same company that pays him to write front page stories.

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