Thursday, December 11, 2008

Daily Newspapers Slump - Missing the Obvious – Alternative News Outlets vs. Ideology

John Gapper, at the Financial Times ponders the question: “Who will Mourn Local Newspapers?” - and in yesterdays article laid out the case against “bad journalism” produced by blogs and talk radio. He also bemoaned the fact that journalist feel the general public is not as well served by these new outlets. He closed his article with the hope that the demise of the local daily papers will “strengthen the editorial position of the remaining elite: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Financial Times etc.”

Therein lays the problem that continues to be overlooked by those “elites” who would guide the populace rather than report the news. One has to look to ratings in terms of right vs. left, over a period of time, to understand that the rise of “alternative news”. Twenty years ago, the daily newspapers and network broadcast news enjoyed a virtual monopoly; there simply were no other sources available. Today, conservative talk radio and the Fox News Network dominate their respective rankings. Rush Limbaugh, for example, enjoys a week cume (equivalent to a newspapers circulation) of 14.25 million, compared to the top ranked NBC evening news of 8.34 million. Comparing apples to apples, conservative talk radio is enjoying relative prosperity while more left leaning radio networks like Air America and
are either clawing out of bankruptcy or facing layoffs.

It would behoove those “elites” who feel that the Internet and conservative talk radio are to blame, to get a grip on reality. In another financial times blog, Gideon Rachman is adamant that the problem lies with ”Internet slime” and those “gun-toting…..bit of the United States” (Conservatives). This situation has now dissolved into intense denial and anger. The crux of the matter is simple. Ideology has no place in journalism with the exception of an editorial page in a newspaper (or a segment on the nightly news, etc.). The last four general elections have shown a country that is deeply divided – right vs. left. When a news outlet, be it a newspaper, broadcast news network, cable news network or radio talk show, caters to one segment of the population only (or candidate as was the case in the last election), they are bound to lose circulation, “cume”, and viewership to those outlets that offer another “editorial” point of view. Should, by some miracle, what has become known as the Mainstream Media, wake up from its stupor and begin to report, while defining editorial (be it conservative or liberal) as such, confining it to a specific segment, they just might stand a chance of winning back a share of that audience.

1 comment:

Jimmy Lewis said...

One need only look at Radio's example to fully understand, where you need to be, to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Conservative Talk Radio cleaned Air Americas clock ... as it would 'NPR', if 'We The People' were not footing the bill.

I worked 14 years in the Newspaper Industry (1976-1990) and began to see its decline in the mid 80s. Thank God I got outta there when I did ,,,

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