Friday, February 27, 2009

Rocky Mountain Low

Everyone's taken aback by the Rocky Mountain News closing today (Friday, February 27th, 2009.) 

I'm more taken aback watching CNN right now giving financial advice to the assistant managing editor Luke Clarke. I'm blogging in real time, so I'm going through the motions of horror to being a little creeped out and now I'm at a point where I'm thinking, maybe this is a good idea. 

This is the first time I've seen anyone in the mainstream press look at the personal impact of losing a newspaper job. A lot of kids went to college on those salaries, a lot of houses bought, a lot of middle to upper middle class lifestyles supported. 

I like the fact CNN went into the financials of this particular individual, but now I'm waiting for the "what about civil society, what about democracy" when a newspaper goes away. 

I'd like to see that debate right now. I'm a little tired of reading about "without a newspaper, Watergate would never have been broken as a story." That's kind of the same logic applied when pro-lifers say you could be aborting the next Mozart or doctor who finds the cure for cancer, or AIDS or whatever. I watch/listen/read a lot of alternative press that never reaches a mainstream audience, that you think would cause the mainstream media to forward material...and nothing happens. 

I don't know what it all means. I have some ideas, but I'd like to hear more from a diverse group of folks. CNN, the paper has folded...we need you to generate some discussion about where it goes from here!

Some cheesy CNN Hero story has come on...time to channel surf. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Local or Not

What with several major dailies filing for bankruptcy, or closing their doors, salvation seems to be found in the local newspapers. Not so true for larger markets, like my adopted hometowns of the Twin Cities, where commercially viable options such as the Southwest Journal are shedding what few jobs they had. With the Star Tribune and Pi Press turning its still vast resources to "hyper" local newsgathering, they just can't compete.

I wonder where community radio will fall in this mix. In terms of audience, it's almost non existent, but it inspires a rabid following of listeners, and donors who want at least a semblance of pluralism on the airwaves. My philosophy as a news director was straightforward: I can't afford to send people to Gaza; send them to Minneapolis City Hall instead. With the growing immigrant and refugee communities in the Twin Cities, issues abroad took on local significance - and while we couldn't go to Mogadishu or Thailand, we could get inside a diaspora and try to explain what impact they were having.

In the global marketplace, of things as much as ideas, we are all connected. When (if?) I ever get back to local newsgathering, I'd like to put more effort into explaining its global influence, or how global influence is reaching into our neighborhoods. That's what's missing from local news.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Corporations Are Coming! The Corporations Are Coming!

An interesting blog post caught my eye about Twitter trying to figure out how to monetize their platform.

And in recent days, a chum shared an interesting take on the blogosphere, or rather the future of it, and how, ironically, corporations are coming in to ruin it in order to save it. Because at the end of the day, and this is where I think this guy is right on, the networks are still the big enchiladas with the brand and the capital to get the eyeballs reading the blogs and presumably turn a profit.

Here's the thing: the Internet was supposed to be the great equalizer. But it's turning out that capitalism is still king. Perhaps it was naive of some of us to think that it would turn it out differently, but the web has the potential to deliver great social policies.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Let's Get Intellectual

My practical, pragmatic side and my philosophical, intellectual side always seem to be wrestling with each other. My intellectual side was losing last night as I watched Bill Moyers interview Jay Rosen and Glenn Greenwald. (Self-disclosure: I watched the program on television! On public television no less! Not on my computer! There is hope!)

I dig Jay Rosen. His project is innovative. I think he hero worships John Dewey a bit much, but for the most part I'm glad he's out there, saying his stuff, doing his thang. We need provocative thinkers..and what I like about Rosen as well...DOers. How do we make this media system work for everyone, not just people with education, with money, with good social connections? Drat...I'm beginning to sound like John Dewey!


They were talking mostly about the D.C. press last night - Rosen and Greenwald deconstructed the media coverage on Obama, notably the Daschle resignation as health and human services secretary. But then they got into press elitism - Walter Lippmann Syndrome if you will ( my phrasing, not theirs).


This is where I differ with Rosen. I don't think the press has declined that much in influence. There are a few cases where bloggers have set the agenda...but how does it get pushed into the mainstream? The mainstream media. And indeed, he talked about that when Moyers asked him about the exclusion of alternative pressheads, like Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, from Meet the Press and all the other blah-blahers of the D.C. media corps. Just because "we" the Public, the Masses, are now able via the Internet to set up our own platforms, communicated directly with the powerbrokers, like the press -- does that mean "we" the Public, the Masses have more power? I'm not so sure.


So here I am, my inner sides duking it out. On one hand agreeing with the good guests on Moyers - on the other hand quite skeptical. Because it's one thing to create the tool - it's quite another how, and when, and where you use it. And the conventions about how the press makes decisions on what to distribute, and what not - it's going to take a much larger flood to humble the elites.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Blog Recommendation: the Newsosaur

If you think I write long blogs...check out this guy.

Seriously, the Newsosaur provides great food for thought about the future of newspapers and journalism. He brings hard numbers and audience research and online usership to identify trends. And he's got a catchy Blogonym: Newsosaur.