Tales of two newspapers: NYT and P-I

Tales of my recent encounters with two newspapers of note, The New York Times and The Palladium-Item:

The New York Times

NYC: New York Times BuildingAccording to The New York Times website, home delivery of their Sunday edition is available where I live in Richmond, Indiana.  Earlier this year I tried to take them up on that, buying a subscription online and eagerly awaiting that first Sunday morning when I would get to indulge in a paper-reading experience long enough to get me through at least one cup of coffee.

But that first Sunday, the paper didn't show up.  "Oh, yeah, that's probably just some issue getting you in the circulation system," the phone rep said when I called.  "We'll get it to you next week."

Week two, no paper.  "Sorry about that, don't know what happened there.  Hold on while I call the distribution center."  They concluded it was just another circulation issue, and assured me it had been straightened out for sure this time.

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Why I'm canceling my print newspaper subscription

Damon on FireI believe the time has finally come to cancel my subscription to the local newspaper, The Palladium-Item.  It's a decision I've wrestled with even as I've supported and found excitement in the possibilities for renewal at the paper (and blogged about some of that thinking here, here, here, and here), and it's not something I'll do lightly.

I've gone from subscribing to the paper seven days a week, to just the Friday/Saturday/Sunday package, to just the Sunday edition.  Here's why I'm going to finally let go of receiving a print edition altogether:

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Recommendations for the Local Newspaper

Jason Truitt at the Richmond Palladium-Item has requested input from the paper's readers on its current strategic planning conversations, saying "we want to do a better news operation in 2010."  As I've done in the past, I'd like to try to answer some of Jason's specific questions here, and while they're somewhat particular to our community, my recommendations might be useful for other papers too:

1. Watchdog journalism involves writing stories that hold public officials accountable for their actions or stories that help to right wrongs in the community, for example. In what ways could we improve in this area?

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Arresting journalists, preventing protest

Journalist Amy Goodman, along with two other members of her crew, were roughed up and arrested at the Republican National Convention despite clearly displaying their press credentials.  Other journalists hoping to provide media coverage of the convention and the protests around it were pre-emptively arrested before it even began.  And of course, many other people attempting to protest peacefully at both major-party conventions were rounded up, assaulted, arrested and more.  For anyone who still had some shred of hope that the media have the ability (let alone the interest) to cover actions and speech that dissent from the mainstream, these incidents may not leave you with much hope left.

Here's an interview PBS did with Goodman about her arrest, including video from the scene: Continue reading "Arresting journalists, preventing protest"

What constitutes good local news coverage?

Jason Truitt, Online Editor of the Palladium-Item newspaper here in Richmond, recently asked what readers are looking for when they ask for more "local news." My response:

For me, a good local news story is one that reflects the things that are happening and the experiences people are having in and around our city and county. For it truly to reflect a local point of view, the story should include the perspectives, thoughts and emotions of local people, and preferably be written by someone who has a local context for (even, dare I say, a personal investment in) why those things might matter.
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Pal-Item forgets that framing trumps truth?

As the whole EDC mess swirls on and the gloves come off, the Palladium-Item, Richmond's local daily newspaper, has continued to insist that its role in fueling the fire of outrage over the EDC's affairs has just been about reporting the truth. It is with this sentiment that they've responded to public criticism of their aggressive coverage and editorializing, it is how they responded to concerns raised in an editorial board meeting I attended shortly after the initial series ran on their pages, and it is how managing editor Rich Jackson responds in an editorial column today. But Jackson and the rest of his staff surely know that the impact of their actions in this and every other matter they cover is not limited to the letter of the content they deliver; in a world of fast paced news delivery, short attention spans, and the need for sexy sound bites, the way the information is presented often has as much (if not more) impact than the "truth" that it might be trying to convey. In other words, the framing of an issue tends to trump the truth of an issue. This isn't their fault, but if credibility is important, it is their responsibility to acknowledge their role in that phenomenon.
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TechTalk on blogging, The Daily Nightly

Coming up this Thursday, I'll be presenting a TechTalk seminar in Richmond on "A Newcomer's Guide to Blogging." I thought those of you who read here, especially other bloggers, may be interested in attending and contributing - please come if you are!

Related, I think it's important to note that NBC Nightly News has enabled comments on their weblog that chronicles the production of their nightly network newscast. I didn't really consider it a blog until they did that, and even though the comments are moderated, they've really taken what I would consider to be an important (and somewhat risky) step in bringing the culture of blogging to mainstream media. Today's series of posts on Brian Williams` travels with President Bush were particularly unique. Next in line: during commercials, instant messaging with the anchor about the segment that just aired? Hmmm.

EDC airs out dirty laundry in Pal-Item

I was surprised to pull up today's Palladium-Item online and see four more articles about Don Holbrook and questions surrounding his role with the Wayne County Economic Development Corporation. Last Thursday's article, "EDC leader takes hits from all sides," already seemed unnecessarily harsh in that it publicly framed the EDC's current budget concerns around Don Holbrook's working relationship with the EDC board; the implication was almost that he'd been stealing cash from their bank account. And then today's articles, "Heat's on Holbrook,""'Character assassination' played part in the past,""Raising concerns may cost board member leadership post," and "What EDC members say" make it sound like the EDC is falling apart at the seams with political earthquakes and personal smears. What the heck is going on here?
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Random: collaboration, affiliation, journalism

One: Dave Pollard has posted a really interesting (and quite long) series of essays, studies, and narratives about how to build the ideal collaborative team and the collaboration process in general. Though I haven't grokked all of the implications yet, I generally find their primary conclusion, that attitude is more important than experience or specific knowledge in collaborative work, to be quite true in my own experience. Two: I've posted a list of my personal and professional affiliations. As the traffic on my blog increases and I get some more feedback about some of the more "controversial" posts, I want to make sure I fully disclose what kinds of organizations and projects I'm involved with and have allegiances to - noting just as emphatically that none of them necessarily endorse or agree with what I write here. Three: As reported by Slashdot, the Federal Election Commission has issued a draft advisory opinion essentially finding that bloggers can qualify as journalists for the purpose of the 'press exemption' in federal campaign finance laws. As a blogger, I don't really consider myself a journalist, but I know plenty who do and it's interesting to see this conversation evolve about what protections and privileges bloggers should have.

Happy News Dot Com

I was glad to find the site HappyNews.com, which publishes "up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives." While I'm always a fan of balancing the good and the bad (or, in this case, the happy and the unhappy) and everything in between, there are plenty of sources out there for news stories framed in the context of all the things wrong with the world. This site appears to be making a good go at an alternate approach that focuses on the positive, and they even encourage paid citizen journalism.