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Layoffs hit the newsrooms of multiple newspapers in Colorado this week. On Oct. 25, Stephen Meyers, a reporter for The Coloradoan in Fort Collins, said he...
Failing U.S. newspapers could give this a try: On June 10th Dov Alfon, the editor of Haaretz, the Israeli version of the New York Times, gave his reporters the day off and sent 31 of the country's top novelists and poets out into the country to report the news. Out went the stale voice of unachievable objectivity. In came the subjective voice of the first-person. It wasn't the only journalistic horror perpetrated on the paper's delighted readers.
In addition to being a pretty good story all on its own, the ongoing coup at Denver Film Society is throwing up some interesting material for journalism watchers as well. Was the reporting influenced by an undisclosed conflict that Denver Post Editor Greg Moore's wife was a former Film Society board member who is largely credited with hiring the now-ousted staffer? Last week the Film Society staff reportedly decided that they'd had enough of executive director Bo Smith. More than 20 employees announced their intention to resign to send the message that Bo had to go. This, in a recession economy that has brutally cut into arts budgets here and everywhere. The dramatic result of the staff action is that the DFS board decided on Friday to fire Smith.
Denver MediaNews Group's "Individualized News" product was reportedly scheduled to begin printing in 25 Highland neighborhood homes this morning. By now readers have been roused by the sound of a desk-top printer churning out an eight-page I-edition of the news. This version of your morning paper is not affected by the weather. It is six regular-size sheets printed on both sides with stories on topics tailored to your liking along with two sheets of local business coupons. Awkward? Backward-looking? Redundant? Maybe. But it's an idea that would seem attractive at least to advertisers, a key factor in news-industry business-plan formulations these days.
Should the Denver Post begin to list and sink, you can bet the story will not be broken by the business reporters at the Denver Post. In the wake of the death of the rival Rocky Mountain News and as part of the narrative of a larger struggling industry, the business management of the Post is a major story but one Post business reporters seem less than interested in covering. They should be interested. If they start covering that story, and covering it hard, the Post executives might be forced into the kind of action now that could save the paper later.
The Columbia Journalism Review posted "The List" this week, a catalog of 727 stories published in the top business press outlets during the run-up to the financial crisis. "Power Problem," an analysis of The List by CJR Editor Dean Starkman, is due to post next week. In compiling The List, the CJR staff looked to determine if in fact business writers had provided adequate warning to the public before the bad-loan business toppled global finance. They searched stories from 2000 to 2007. The answer: Sorry, no. The top business writers in the country failed to adequately survey the field and see the looming disaster.
Fixing the media crisis is on a lot of people's minds these days. Editors and common folk alike are grappling for not only answers but the right questions to ask on the long-term effects of dwindling news outreach on effective government that demands a well-informed citizenry. The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy and PBS Engage have teamed up on an online survey to gauge citizen reactions with more than 1,000 comments already logged on the Web site. But, hurry, the survey closes Friday.
At the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) conference yesterday in Denver, the opening panel featured mainstream-media heavyweights admitting that journalists "blew" coverage of the financial crisis, that they missed the "big story" as it unfolded over the course of a decade. A root problem, as TV journalist Allan Dodds Frank put it, was the "posture of reverence" adopted by business reporters toward their subjects, a posture that sees CEOs as stars and "corporations as sexy."
In the face of rapidly shrinking turf, the embattled members of the press corps at the Colorado Capitol have finally decided to represent, flashing a four-fingered sign upon entering chambers or committee hearing rooms, apparently marking turf. For those in the know, the four-finger salute references the fourth estate.
It's a Colorado snow day. No one's at the office. Call anyone and you get the same voice mail: "I'm not here. There was a blizzard yesterday. What's the matter with you?" Translation: it's a perfect day to dedicate to contemplating democracy and the role of the press! If you want to know what happened to the Rocky Mountain News, for example, sit back and dive into the chunky piece longtime journalism / media watchers Robert McChesney and John Nichols wrote for The Nation last week.