Monday, December 22, 2008

Why we need newspapers

The blogosphere likes to take pot-shots at the main-stream media, some of which the MSM has earned. Political coverage is often vapid, and the culture of "balance" ("some say earth is round, others disagree') is often self-satirizing.

But every now and then, the hometown paper here, the once-great and rapidly deteriorating Los Angeles Times, reminds us that there is o substitute for great, shoe-leather reporting. Ken Ellingwood has been reporting the tragic story of Mexico under siegeover the course of the fall. The story is vivid, and could only be told be someone on the ground, with the resources behind him to visit many places and interview many people. This is the sort of thing that only a major news organization could do.

Newspapers used to be closely held by families--the Ochs-Sulzbergers in New York, the Grahams in Washington, the Pulitzers in St. Louis, the Binghams in Louisville, the Chandlers in Los Angeles. When a family owns a business, it needn't worry about quarterly results--it can focus on other values. In the end, we may not all always like those values (those of Charles Foster Kane, er. William Randolph Hearst come to mind). Nevertheless, beyond that fact that technological change is undermining the newspaper business, it would appear that the publicly traded company model for owning newspapers is fundamentally flawed. And heaven help us if we need to reply on the blogosphere alone for news.


Anonymous said...

Most of the best blogs respond to the media by reprinting the juicy bits and providing analysis.

William said...

I hope that I can save the NY Times by subscribing, hope that at the very least it will be possible to save papers which are regional rather than local.

What has happened at the Chicago Tribune is truly heart breaking. The man who bought it and then drove it in the ground should have to spend 5 years in a super max.

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