No-news conventions, the disappearing newsroom and AP the dinosaur

Google sponsors Blogger Tent at Democratic and Republic National Conventions

For $100 you can have access to an exclusive tent for bloggers at the Democratic and Republican national conventions – complete with Googleplex-style goodies and granola. For all the hoopla about Google as a media company, how new media alters the journalistic landscape, etc., I kept wondering the same question: what news comes out of a convention anyway? After the running mate is announced, it’s a lot of rah-rah and pats on the back, right? (The above link to the WSJ article buries this point at the bottom.)

Emmis cuts 4.6 percent of workforce

I love print. Always have. It’s how I learned how to read. But I have to ask. Is this a healthy “leaning” of artificially large newsroom staffs? Before I draw harsh criticism from print-age journos, I’m speaking purely of the business model. Will newspapers hit an equilibrium where they narrow in scope and turn a profit? Furthermore, from Gannett…

Gannett blogger laments thinning newsroom staffs

Former Gannett editor Jim Hopkins provides a former where anonymous Gannett employees, past and present, can keep up to date on the latest dismal news from the colossal newspaper chain.

Tribune layoffs hit minorities disproportionately harder

According to a report by Richard Prince at his Journal-isms blog, the most recent round of cutoffs at the Chicago Tribune, Tribune Co.’s flagship brand, were disproportionately minority reporters. Ray Quintanilla told Prince that of the more than 80 people let go, after you factor in 30 voluntary exit, the list is heavily minority, and “looks bad.” To play my own devil’s advocate, this, if true, is anything but healthy for journalism.

And finally, a bit of good news…Idaho Falls drops AP contract in 2010

This I applaud for its boldness. Publisher of the Idaho Falls Post Register Roger Plothow stated in a letter:

I’ll put my cards on the table — I’m not sure how we’re going to pull this off. While the AP’s value to us has been severely diminished over the years, it still does provide a handful of services that we haven’t been able to find elsewhere — yet. I’m betting, however, that it’s only a matter of time. More likely, we’ll use that time to become essentially 100 percent local, which is probably where we’re headed eventually anyway.

Bravo. That’ll be one to keep tabs on.

The future of journalistic objectivity

Chicago Tribune logoTimothy McNulty at the Chicago Tribune wrote a great article yesterday on journalistic objectivity.

Objectivity is an oft-debated topic amongst journalists. To what extent is it possible? Where are the lines drawn? Has it diminished in the age of cable TV’s talking heads and the numerous opining bloggers? Or, as McNulty says, does objectivity get reduced to neutrality? “On the one hand this” and “on the other hand this,” without any attempt to truly seek the truth?

One thing that interests me is the potential of objectivity on a macro level – especially given the democratizing potential and decentralized nature of the Web.

Continue reading “The future of journalistic objectivity”

Gannett & Tribune team up to launch MetroMix LLC

I first saw this come over PRNewswire, than read about it on AP and others.

At first glance, I brushed it aside because, frankly, it’s not all that exciting to me that MetroMix is expanding. But after hearing a fellow student here at Medill make a comment on how excited she would be at the prospect of working for the Chicago Tribune, I thought I’d get on my new media soapbox.

This deal epitomizes what doesn’t excite me about traditional media companies. Expanding their MetroMix brand to deliver a national advertising network targeted at young, affluent urbanites? Not exactly a revolutionary self-examination of what the Tribune is, and is not, doing well, in my opinion.

Now, I’m not saying the joint Tribune/Gannett venture won’t be commercially successful. Obviously those who orchestrated the deal believe so. And I’ll readily admit, it’s a great resource for finding events in Chicago (where I live). But it still has so many old media hangups. Such as…

Submitting a listing

Below is a screen shot of the “submit a listing” button, neatly tucked away well below the fold, so to speak, on the lower left sidebar.

Metromix Submit a Listing

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of community participation.

If you do find, navigate to, or stumble upon the “submit a listing” button, you get the screen below:

Metromix Submit a Listing

This screen comes complete with the following disclaimers:

  • Metromix only accepts e-mail and online form submissions; no mail or fax submissions will be accepted
  • We are not able to confirm receipt of submissions, due to the amount of mail we receive.
  • We cannot guarantee the inclusion of any event in our listings.

Wow, they are really inviting the community to participate.

(In full disclosure, I’ve never submitted an event or a venue to MetroMix, so I can’t speak to how well they respond).

Although there are reasons (and valid ones) that such disclaimers exist, the fact remains that MetroMix failes to capitalize on an inherent capability of the medium: its decentralization.

Traditional media companies don’t do well with that.

Okay, I’m finished.