Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New vs. old journalists and the 'mediasphere'

On the journalism front, there's a little flurry of discussion over how news organizations need to rebuild themselves, leading to this memo from Tampa Tribune editor Janet Coats on the plans for an 'interactive newsroom' joining the newspaper, online and television news processes.

Last week, lots of bloggers and commenters reacted to a posting by Tampa intern Jessica DaSilva, "It's worth fighting for", quoting Coats' talk with newsroom staffers. Lots of the comments here were negative (sample:)
Wow, you really are young and naive, aren’t you? Someone sent me the link to your blog, and I almost had to laugh, it was so ridiculous. I’m truly amazed that in one of your other posts, you can tell reporters to stop whining and do something about their situation. What, praytell, young lady, would you like them to do?
This lead to Ryan Sholin's posting, Declare your independence from the curmudgeon tribe.

Hmm. It's hard all around, and on some of these discussions journalists are getting dissed because suddenly they care about job losses when it's been happening everywhere else.

See Mark Shaver's post attempting to compare news layoffs to other industries'... And see Joel Achenbach's comments about the history of one attempt to make journalism more local, at the Miami Herald 25 years ago, in his 'Memo to the new boss', the Washington Post's new editor, Marcus Brauchli.

Where is this all going? Who knows? There have been lots of plans to change journalism. (I watched lots and lots start up, and fizzle out.) When you see a newsroom's collective memory leaving, seasoned reporters being replaced by recent interns new to a city, you have to wonder. But then....those old reporters started out new, once, too.

But. No matter how many reporters you have, or how much they know the community, there are lots more people out there that know a whole lot more about it than your newsroom does.

Trying to keep up on the news from Miami, I check the Herald's site most days. I usually find only one or two stories -- if any -- to click on from the front page. Much more often, I go to South Florida Daily Blog, where I always find things to look at, whether newspaper or TV stories, or blog links.

Isn't this an example of what news websites should be doing? Or, as Howard Owens says, Is your news site the center of the local mediasphere?
...why should a reader need to go to any of those other sites FIRST to get news or information. Should you be directing traffic?

Sometimes it doesn't take a journalist at all to know what the most interesting news is around town. Newspapers should be hiring people like 'Daily Blog's Rick, or Knox Views' R. Neal (who also has created Tenn Views and Blount Views, and once was the popular South Knox Bubba), or Ashvegas' Ash (oh wait: he was let go from the local daily) to mention three I read regularly.

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