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« Clear as mud | Main | Bridesmaid »

Mar 25, 2009


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The Ann Arbor News just decided to go the way of all flesh. A web company, complete with a "Chief Content Leader," will succeed the paper.

Jim Buie

As short-staffed newspapers no longer have the ability to cover non-profit and advocacy organizations, expect those organizations to step up and increasingly "become the media" in their own right -- not just sending in press releases but hiring reporters to cover events and do investigations from their perspectives and submit fully-sourced stories to newspapers and multiple websites.

I think we'll see more biweekly, weekly and monthly newspapers, and more advocacy journalism financed by think-tanks and advocacy organizations. "Mainstream media" that tries to straddle the fence between left and right perspectives will probably diminish. More here.

John Hood

Agreed, Jim.

Kirk Ross

The second day I clocked in at the Chapel Hill Newspaper in 1988, a fellow who'd been there for 30 years retired. He said to the assembled staff "if you have to work for a living, this is the best damn business to be in."
Today, I got up at 6:45 a.m. thinking about an editorial and didn't see the usual celebratory Jameson and PBR until after 8 p.m. At some point this business lost its blue collar roots. We started working for corporations and empires rather than for the sound of the press and the people who read our stuff.
I've often joked that to save themselves newspapers need to get back to the land. But, really, I'm not joking at all.


kirk: i'm drinking a rum and coke, with a lime twist, to that.


That's a pretty nice website they have there.


...we'll see... more advocacy journalism financed by think-tanks and advocacy organizations

Isn't advocacy journalism inherently less trustworthy that traditonal journalism? If a journalist is motivated by a desire to advance an agenda, shouldn't readers assume that accuracy and fairness take a back seat?

Reading journalists who profess opposing agendas won't get you a fair and accurate picture, either. That's more than a bit like watching both O'Reilly and Olbermann and expecting to come out of it with the wheat separated from the chaff. All you'll get is a headache and a blood pressure spike.

Jim Buie

Justcorby: "Isn't advocacy journalism inherently less trustworthy...?" Not necessarily. Some of what passes for "objective" journalism today is actually journalism with a point of view. We may see more "truth in labeling." You know when you read the "progressive" U.K. Guardian or the conservative Washington Times you're getting journalism with a point of view. Truth is, you're probably also getting journalism with a point of view when you read The New York Times or The Indianapolis Star, but it's not labeled as such. By now most of us know that Fox News and MSNBC cover alternative universes -- they offer different perspectives on the same events. Watching both requires a BS detector, an ideological filter and critical thinking skills on the part of the listener -- not a bad thing in my humble opinion when consuming any media. News consumers need to become more sophisticated. Constant whining about "media bias" comes from an expectation that one media outlet should be a perfect oracle of objectivity. It isn't, wasn't ever and will never be. But in the age of the web, you can find all sides if you seek them out.


News consumers need to become more sophisticated. Constant whining about "media bias" comes from an expectation that one media outlet should be a perfect oracle of objectivity. It isn't...

Agreed. I've said the same many times. But I see advocacy journalism as something distinct from a biased media source. The Guardian and the Economist, for example, are two outstanding journalism products that are also imbued with a strong ideological bent. (Although many folks outside the UK don't realize that, speakng of the need for "more sophisticated" news consumers.) Those ideologies often flavor their reporting. However, they are not of the same breed as O'Reilly and Olbermann, or Limbaugh and Randi Rhondes. One side reports the news with an ideological coloration, while the other side cherry picks news to bolster an agenda.

I think the evidence of talk radio, cable pundits and political blogs indicates that a lot of people are not interested in seeking out all sides. They're interested in seeking out the side that agrees with them. So I'm pessimistic. I expect to see the demise of many tradional media outlets, biases or otherwise, and the rise of many outlets for whom the news is raw material for propaganda.


Jim: right on bro. the proof is in the pudding. If you want any more evidence on the slant of so called national news, take the current event of the Mexican drug war conflict.

There was a fatality that went unreported, and if it wasn't for a blog I frequent, the world would never know about the death of the most filmed and acclaimed Mexican film star, Sancho the burro. Sancho's early work was exploitive, as he appeared in mostly cheaply made pornographic films cranked out for local audiences. He was discovered by Disney and rescued by TriStar. He appeared as a featured extra in over 65 films, frequently appearing as a flying unicorn. Parts of Sancho were instantly reconizable to the Mexican film going audience, resulting in otherwise inexplicable cheers and hoots in even the most somber films.

His most famous role was in Mel Gibson's, "Passion of the Christ", playing the lead part in the Palm Sunday procession. This scene was removed from the film after its premier in southern California due to the unfortunate reaction of the mostly Hispanic filmgoers in the region. He was buried in Tiajuana Rosita.

It's a shame that news such as this is frequently obscured by inconsequential mainline news reports, like, constant droning on business bonuses which have nothing to do with us. But who among us can honestly say he does not enjoy a good donkey show?


I started to go to the donkey show in Laredo but sobered up, changed my mind and got back in the taxi. I hope the donkey didn't take it personally.

Jim Buie

JustCorbly: I agree with your distinction between propaganda masquerading as news vs. quality news with a strong ideological bent. To me, Fox News and MSNBC, as well as Limbaugh, trade too often in propaganda, report on half-based "studies," make hysterical leaps, twist facts to fit a pre-conceived "liberals bad/conservatives good" or vice versa cookie-cutter version of the news. "Infotainment." That's a problem.

Students need to be educated to use critical thinking skills when listening to such outlets. It's like a continuous diet of fast food.

I like both the U.K Guardian and The Economist, The Washington Post and the Washington Times. But then I'm a newsaholic.


One day in the near future, journalism will be put into words. I can see it coming.


heyheyheyhey.....wait a goddang minute..if they change the name of the War on Turr to something Contingency Operation (I can't help thinking about the kid's game where you take out a guy's liver and if you touch his Islets of Langerhans, his nose lights up) does Bush get the victory, does it go to the middle reliever or the closer. Do the dead guys have to stay dead for his idea, or what? Who was the last guy to die for the War of Turr. When does one end and the other one start? I don't know an adverb from ad hoc. I need help from you smart guys on this one.

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