Howard Kurtz — and most of the newspaper industry — is getting it wrong. Kurtz laments cutbacks at newspapers, fearing it will cut investigative reporting. I think what he should lament is the refusal of newspaper editors to wake up and smell the latte: all the wasted froth that squanderes their budgets. The newspaper has to learn what its real value is and that is, indeed, reporting and its editors have to stop defending raw numbers of bodies. They need to boil themselves down to their essence and they haven’t had the courage to do that yet. Stop wasting money on commodity news, ego, and fear and start investing it in reporting again.
: Roy Greenslade agrees to disagree with Kurtz:
Without wishing to be unduly rude about US journalists, seen from the British perspective, it appears that there are far too many of them being far too unproductive. The LA Times has 980 journalists at present, a huge staff compared to any serious British national paper. Yet we manage to hold our government to account. Ask Tony Blair is he can get away with anything without being scrutinised.
Now, I’m fully aware of the different journalistic cultural differences between us and them. I’m certainly not urging that US newsrooms should be cut to the quick. But it appears to me that there’s been a lot of feather-bedding on big monopoly metro papers in the States and the current crisis is providing an opportunity to hack away the hacks who do not contribute. Kurtz concludes: “If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians.” But Howard, please get this into proportion. There’s a revolution going on and we need to think positively about that.
Amen, brother bombthrower.
And here comes Juan Antonio Giner with a lit fuse:
Of course … you need journalists, but for what?
To re-package the same news from the same sources?
To attend the same boring press conferences?
To publish today the same news that our readers knew YESTERDAY?
To produce pages and pages of commodity information with no value added?
To edit pages and pages of listings that could go directly to our web site?
To attend long and badly planned news meetings?
To expend hours and hours in front of our computers?
To work with not real feed-back from your editors?
To work with no time to think?
The real challenge in our industry is not how many people do we need, but to know how to change the rules and traditions of a newsroom management system that does not work anymore.
Firtst fix the newsroom management system, and then letÂ´s discuss how many people do we need.
And then we will not have any problem to keep or find the best talent.
TodayÂ´s problem is the opposite: newspapers are loosing or not attracting talented people because our newsrooms are not creative places to work, to discuss, and to dream.
I am not about the people that leave (many of them with great early retirement packages) but about the people that stay in our newsrooms to work under the same conditions.
It is vital — for the survival of news(papers) that we have guts enough to rediscover our real value and essence and build from there. Cutbacks can help.
I think you begin by deconstructing the newspaper.