Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Why qualitative news is impossible for liberals to achieve

Liberals are a queer/strange lot. They deal in feel-good principals which are great on paper, but can't make the bacon necessary to be worthwhile. The days of government-sponsored investments are pretty much over, except for overtaxed metropolitan areas.

In newspapers, liberal journalism professors invented this concept of ethics and tried to get it adopted in the real world. Unfortunately, it didn't work. The prime result of their efforts was to get liberal reporters hired on metropolitan big-paper (MSM) staff. But practically, papers are run by economics, meaning someone has to make the money to pay the staff and print the paper. So if public want corn and games, then that's what you fill the paper with.

The most practical application of these invented journalism ethos is in the business reporting. Stocks rise and fall, people are interested in analysis by people who do this for a living. The results can be measured, so those who don't get results aren't listened to. Like Ann Landers - she basically made sense by telling the truth to people who wanted to know. Readers could use what she wrote either directly or vicariously live through the toil and troubles of others, plus Ann's hopefull comments.

Ethics can be preached, but will only be applied when you have economic consequences for following/not following it. The Golden Rule has practical economic base - it works if you are accurately observing the world around you and empirically taking notes.

Newspapers and TV have never been in some ivory tower world of presenting "objective" news. They have always, always been living in the world of infotainment - spicing everything they say up with deathless prose and the tinge of destruction and overwhelming "true-life" drama. (Just listen to CBS for while and compare this with any local, small -town TV program and you can see the immediate difference. CNN is even worse, usually.)

So a typical newspaper would have to be a large part ads, paid and classifieds (to pay for the operation), a bit on sports, a bit on business, a bit on obituaries/local items and the rest infotainment. Probably close to 50% of the paper is paid advertizing, 10% sports, 10% business news, 5% obituaries/local items and the rest is infotainment. Op-ed pieces are just more infotainment and included as part of that percentage.

Probably TV also follows this format. You get 10 minutes of ads every 20 minutes. At least 33% ads. Could be worked out, I imagine.

I've said this before and it still continues to hold: people watch those shows which support their pre-concieved views. Life with it's continuing dose of hard-luck choices is what changes these views, not any amount of TV or newspapers or magazines. Then they tune into shows/rags which then support their views of life, helping them to execute their plans for survival.

Only the extreme liberals are motivated by their feel-good literature. They live for that heart on their sleeve. Those of us red-neck, backwater, hands-on types have to make a living and deal with the people next to us on the assembly line or in the warehouse, not quietly salve our conscience in our cubicle with pretty screensavers on the desktop while we are able to listen to NPR on headphones as we work at mindless, impersonal tasks for a massive corporation. It is the real world which forces the red counties to adopt their views of life. It is the fantasy escapist literature which frees the blue-city denizens from their self-imposed slavery. Taking a few days off in order to protest the local government is a needed break from those drudgeries.

But according to Poynter:

"Poynter was publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and founder of the Poynter Institute. He believed news operations should be sound businesses producing reasonable profits. He believed in quality journalism. He saw profits as necessary to produce exceptional journalism. Now it seems the goal is marginal work on the way to producing large returns. Poynter believed in the value of independent news organizations, free from both external forces and internal pressures. He believed in the value of serving a community. That requires a long-term investment and focus to build the needed connection with citizens.

You know bread doesn't have to connect with other items in the store, but a news organization needs to connect in its community. With all due respect to bakers, the content of bread is only important up to a point. It should be tasty and do no harm. After that, it's just white bread. The content of news reports matters a lot.

In turning back the clock to Nelson Poynter, I'm not longing for some imagined good old days. History shows that through the years many owners only cared about profits. And I'm not painting all media leaders today with one stroke. Many owners, publishers, general managers and other senior executives uphold sound values in difficult times. They are upholding a special trust, and we should help them in our teaching and in addressing the public on the role of media. We can help build an understanding of the value of news and the values that journalists uphold.">Poynter Online - Journalism Basics: More than Bread on the Shelf: "Poynter was publisher of the St. Petersburg Times and founder of the Poynter Institute. He believed news operations should be sound businesses producing reasonable profits. He believed in quality journalism. He saw profits as necessary to produce exceptional journalism. Now it seems the goal is marginal work on the way to producing large returns. Poynter believed in the value of independent news organizations, free from both external forces and internal pressures. He believed in the value of serving a community. That requires a long-term investment and focus to build the needed connection with citizens.

You know bread doesn't have to connect with other items in the store, but a news organization needs to connect in its community. With all due respect to bakers, the content of bread is only important up to a point. It should be tasty and do no harm. After that, it's just white bread. The content of news reports matters a lot.

In turning back the clock to Nelson Poynter, I'm not longing for some imagined good old days. History shows that through the years many owners only cared about profits. And I'm not painting all media leaders today with one stroke. Many owners, publishers, general managers and other senior executives uphold sound values in difficult times. They are upholding a special trust, and we should help them in our teaching and in addressing the public on the role of media. We can help build an understanding of the value of news and the values that journalists uphold."
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