Last opinions on opinions

Part III and the end….

David Carr of The Times talks about his experience being a general assignment reporter in culture and a media columnist in business and before the Oscars a blogger who also made video. He expresses concern that each becomes weaker. He also cautions that in a video or in the blog, he linked to things he would not have in the newspaper.

Heyward asks about whether these various forms confuse the readers and Jon Landman of The Times says no. He says readers are sophisticated; they can deal with another new form. Heyward asks about bringing voice into news and Landman says that’s bullshit: Good writers have voice. He says that there is point of view in a newspaper (see Carr) and it’s not a wholly new thing. Heyward asks whether, if point of view brings circulation and is also cheaper than reporting, we’ll have more of that.

I’m now losing a lot of threads that are all about what we should be doing next. Merrill Brown says it starts with putting up email addresses of reporters. Peter Hart of FAIR complains that the interactivity gimmicks (e.g., Fox letting you bet what’s on next) produces bad journalism. And more. Again, sorry I’m losing the good points (because I had to defend mine).

Tom Easton of the Economist talks about this magazine as alternative media. He says the key to the Economist is that it thinks (it knows) that its audience is smart. He says the staffing plan is that they can’t hire more people than can fit in the managing editor’s office so they can all yell at each other. He’s not sure whether it could be recreated today. He says that the majority of the staff is liberal, in the classical British sense, but the magazine ends up to the right of American media and that is a good thing. He says that others are scared of being out of the mainstream; if that spread to the Economist, he says, that would kill it. He also says that he thinks America is in great shape, better shape than when he graduated college — but, he adds, you don’t see that in The New York Times. Nice line: “If we put Britney on the cover, it would be ironic.”

Jim Brady says that reporters didn’t like putting up their email addresses but they now say they get story ideas there. They didn’t like putting up Technorati links but now they brag when they get a lot of links. He says that writing a story and answering email are both journalism.

Carr says that when he did the Oscar blog, the audience was incredible at knowing a lot and he revels in sharing that. But he says the one thing the audience is bad at doing is assigning stories.

Jay Rosen says that no one is saying that news will be decided by poll. Nobody is saying that we don’t need reporters. Nobody is saying that you should stop reporting and just listen. But these things are being said: The audience knows a lot of stuff and if you don’t tap that knowledge you’re not keeping up with your craft. And journalism has become interactive and if you’re not interacting, you’re not keeping up with your craft. And, he says, trust isn’t made the way it was; the trust transaction is different. If you take those three things, he says, that doesn’t give you the answer to how to afford to get the boots on the ground. We need to experiment, he says.

  • nobody

    The Economist failed to mention that subscribers to the magazine must subscribe to the website’s “subscribers only” section.

    To do this you must answer several questions, INCLUDING YOUR DATE OF BIRTH!

    Hello, Identity Theft!

    Why don’t they just put a unique identification number, like, oh say, a subscription number, on the label, and have you use that?

    Great writing and analysis, Jeff.

    I always knew the Church of Journalism crowd was pretty much worthless. and their great skill was sefl-promotion; the blogosphere proves it.

    Keep it up!

  • I hope quality someday becomes a lucrative niche, and considering the state of our public education system I don’t think niche is the wrong word. I subscribe to the web editions of the Economist and the WSJ. The Economist is way ahead in terms of layout. It’s like the WSJ Web boss never read “The Mythical Man Month”. The whole page is aligned left which just looks stupid on a big widescreen monitor, common with finance folk.

    The Economist, on the other hand, has a clean, functional layout and their mix of free and paid content works better than the NYTimes approach.

  • hey

    The WSJ principal pages are left aligned and designed for small screen sizes, but the article pages pop up to fill the space you give them. It’s nice and works for peope that don’t expand the browser to fill the screen or for mobile browsing. I like both sites and you’ll notice that WSJ has been changing its interface. They make serious money off of and do cater to the audience. Tell them what you want if you don’t like it that much.

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