Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Old style

Jim Romenesko's subtly named sorta-blog "Romenesko," which covers (mostly) old-style media, is indispensable to journalists and bloggers alike. It provides hard info, of course, but reading it is sometimes like listening in as the "professionals" tell stories about the glamorous world of newsgathering.

Romenesko's linking shows his concerns: articles on ethical issues ("'The practice of source confidentiality needs an overhaul'"; "Where should editors put the Duke lacrosse 'rape' story?"); journalism awards and citations (what is it with journalists and awards, anyway?); "interesting" interviews with newsies in the news ("Friedman doesn't worry about running out of column ideas," to which the only appropriate response can be thank God); and even the occasional nugget of condescension to bloggers ("Blogosphere is slowly establishing journalistic legitimacy").

But the site has always bugged me. Part of it is its bias, of course (which way are they biased, o putrid-livered one? Duh.), part of it is its stodgy earnestness (of a piece with its bias), and part of it is its aforementioned condescension to bloggers.

What really bugs me, though, is Romenesko's apparent compulsion to link to stories about how predictions of the demise of newspapers are so, so greatly exaggerated. It's as if he thinks it's his duty to bolster the morale of reporters, editors, owners and stockholders with the "good news" about newspapers.

The other day I searched the site using the phrase "newspapers not dying," and came up with (among others) "Newspaper industry hardly dying, says McClatchey CEO"--"Last year, the world celebrated the 400th birthday of the newspaper. Those of us in the business also recognized it as the 399th anniversary of the first prediction of our demise. Speaking as someone whose company is writing a $6.5 billion check to triple its newspaper holdings, I beg to differ." McClatchey, of course, is buying Knight-Ridder and (surprise) immediately selling off a number of its papers, so the CEO certainly doesn't have an ulterior motive for saying that. Then there was "Oft-told tale of newspapers' waning influence is wrong"; and, just a touch hysterically, "To say newspapers are dying is just crazy." Crazy, I tells ya!

It's not that Romenesko ignores the bad news--he doesn't, as that last link shows. It's just that the assumption with him is always that the decline of newspapers is necessarily a bad thing. I don't think so. The Drunkablog is a recovering five-papers-a-day man--of course, this was only during the time he was alcoholically inclined and unemployed--and now he doesn't subscribe to even the local papers, and hasn't for several years (he hasn't drunk for several years now either, but that's neither here nor there). It's a little sad, but newspapers are just too slow.

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