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We have a class called “Reporting on Decisions” where we have listened to an array of journalists — experts in their field — telling us how bad coverage in their respective fields is and has been in mainstream media almost forever. KC Cole deplored coverage of George Bush’s decisions to put politics above science, Bill Celis told us how deficient coverage was of a major education reform landmark in Texas, and Sasha Anawalt showed us how the L.A. Times missed the boat on the MOCA meltdown.
That was just the beginning. Then we then heard from our own colleages, specialized students who are becoming experts in their fields and who analyzed media coverage of an important decision. The result has been eye openning, although not altogether unexpected. Media is for the most part shallow and deficient in its reporting: it fails to place important decisions in context and fails to provide adequate explanations.

For a long time I’ve been feeling sad about the demise of newspapers as we know them, but the more I see these presentations, and the more I think about it, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing after all.


Does Ashton have as big of a voice as the entire team of CNN? Seriously? Can a former model and mediocre actor have the moxie of 4,000 news professionals, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all over the world?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Apparently, Ashton seems to think that his voice is just as important as the media powerhouse based on the number of tweellowers he’s got: both are racing to see who reaches one million first.

Yeah, it’s come to this.

I’m one of those ludites still trying to figure out the chatter on twitter, and seeing items like this does not help. Are news just becoming a popularity contest? Don’t laugh, it’s a real question. Are personalities egos that overblown that they imagine they can compete with a real news operations? Or are they going to get special ratings for the number of bored teenagers who want to learn every bit about Ashton’s life? Oprah just called. Had nightmares about Ted Turner. A+ is the best grade U can get. I know a blogger that could use a Backpfeifengesicht.

Hey, that one is kinda cool. 🙂

If somebody had told me a year ago I would be adopting this point of view today, I would have said ‘you are out of your pinche mind.’

Well, maybe I am. But I don’t think so.

I’m sure you all have seen the most recent brouhaha at our venerable and quickly sinking L.A. Times. This katzenjammer was provoked by an ad on the front page of the paper that was cleverly “disguised” as a news story.

Boy, oh boy. Have you no pride, L.A. Times executives? Why are you shamelessly trying to sell this sacrosant product with shameless vulgarity on its once pure front page?

Sorry, I can’t help it. Are we not understanding yet that this product is DYING, that is on LIFE SUPPORT and that it needs a lifeline more than balsero stranded outside the Keys? What is it that we need to read or hear to understand that the old rules of newspaper production no longer apply? There are no sacred cows in this business any longer, and the sooner we all come to grips with how much the industry needs to change, the better off we’ll all be.That way we can stop the whinning and the purer-than-that attitude.

Newspapers are losing money in the millions probably every day. Companies have to renegotiate their massive debts. Venerable institutions are closing. People are losing their jobs. And we’re getting our pants in a tizzy because there’s a lousy ad on the front page of the paper? Honestly, what are you people smoking?

The media revolution is so profound and so far reaching that we all need to be prepared to do things we never though of before. Along with embracing new technologies, we need to have completely new attitudes. We’re not in Kansas anymore.

I’m going to be very honest here. Well, I’m typically very honest (sometimes to my detriment) but I felt the need to clarify.

This posting is the equivalent of double-dipping.

I got an assignment for another class to  write on my blog (and this is the only one I have) and talk about three of my favorite blogs. And because this blog is about the media, i figure the blogs I should praise have to be on media as well.

Number one: Ken Doctor’s Content Bridges. I like him because he’s knowledgeable and right on. And I agree with him.

Number two: Alan Mutter’s Reflections of a Newsosaur. Usually a good predictor of bankruptcies and debt defaults.

Number three: Alexandre Gamela’s O Lago/The Lake: Grouchy, irreverent, well informed and forward looking. If I weren’t married I’d ask him out on a date.

Just when you thought we would get a respite from the onslaugh of bad news, here comes Dean Singleton and the much expected announcement that, indeed, he’s basically defaulting on his loans.  I know, I know, it’s old news but hey, I’m supposed to have a job waiting for me at a Media News paper, so I guess I was still believing in the Tooth Fairy.

But so much for whining. In doing the requisite surfing for this blog, I came across an interesting piece in Editor & Publisher Shoptalk column questioning whether J-schools are doing the right stuff to train the future journalists.  Seth Porges, an editor at Popular Mechanics Magazine and a graduate of Medill’s wonders if his alma matter and other schools are placing too much emphasis in teaching the technological aspect of the journalistic revolution (which by necessity is ever changing) at the expense of storytelling and new forms of narrative (which are presumably more enduring). It made me wonder about the job we’re doing here at Annenberg.

I have mixed feelings about what I’ve learned at Annenberg. While I’m definitely much more knowledgable about new media, I still don’t know how to build a webpage (which Porges claims you don’t really need to learn in J-school). I wish I had, though, but then again, the knowledge I’ve gained about the big picture has been precious. I guess I can learn HTML on my own.

OK, I know I vacillate between anger and depression when it comes to the general state of news media, but that doesn’t mean I have any tolerance for my friends who still complain about it. Sorry folks, I have no patience for the reporter who wants to go cover Obama when he rolls into L.A., only to be told by editors that’s what wire services are for. And the guy who wants to do an in-depth story about the history of Taco Trucks in California but gets told by editors to go cover a robbery instead? Forget about it, buddy. These are tough times that have no patience for the faint of heart. (Boy, I sure hope my friends don’t visit my blog).

But I can leave my grumpiness behind when I see a good piece of news, like the one I discovered today just as I was resigning myself to only write about grumpiness.

Benjamin Cardin, an elightened senator from Maryland, introduced on Tuesday the “Newspaper Revitalization Act,” a bill that would allow newspapers to restructure as non-profits and potentially give them a second chance at life. The bill still needs to get co-sponsors and naturally, any takers. But hey, the fact that the plight of newspapers has reached such august heights says something about who’s paying attention. That makes me feel good, at least for this week.

Kübler Ross, part II (I LOVE JON STEWART)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart takes on CNBC“, posted with vodpod

Who says you can’t be grieving and hopeful at the same time?

OK, it took me TWO FULL WEEKS to regain some hope about the state of the media. After all, McClatchy announced it’s going to cut 15 percent of the workforce, it’s looking more likely than ever that the Seattle P-I is going to shutter its print edition, and my employer is listed as a very likely candidate to miss debt payments in the near future.

And not a moment too soon, Jon Stewart blasted Rick Santelly, Jim Cramer and the entire team of CNBC for continuing to tout themselves as “trusted” sources of financial information when they have consistently failed to grill CEO’s and ask tough questions. It is the kind of journalism (advocacy for taxpayers and 401-K owners, anyone?) that we most need, and most everyone is afraid to practice. Might as well go down fighting.

Of course, ratings for the Daily Show went through the roof and everyone is blogging about him. Will Bunch from The Huffington Post wrote a great piece about it. Among its gems: “The American public is mad as hell right now, so why isn’t the mainstream media? Balanced reporting is important, but a balanced, modulated tone of voice? Not now, not when millions are hurting from lost jobs and under-water mortgages, and many millions more are living in fear of the same fate.” And another one: “The First Amendment doesn’t say anything about not being funny, or not being passionate.”

Also in the good, uplifting news department:workers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachussets will try to save the janitors and foodservers, many of them immigrants, from being laid off. It’s not necessarily a media story, but it’s proof that the financial storm we’re witnessing is going to unearth some treasures. Maybe a chestful of hope.

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague Sally Lehrman, who this week wrote about the danger of losing ethnic media, I am convinced this media sector is better poised to weather the financial storm better than any others.

The reasons are numerous, but I’m going to cite three: ethnic media, particularly Spanish-language has not lost readers to the Internet like general market publications. The general decline we’re seeing (which is not as dramatic as the one shaking general market) has more to do with the sorry state of the economy than with a broken business model.

Second,those publications or products that have gone bust, have generally been products that wanted to capture a “market” and not a “community.” Hoy was established in New York by the now troubled Tribune Company and later purchased by ImpreMedia, which is keeping it alive on-line.

Third, and most important, ethnic media has been around for a very long time, and as long as general market media continues to ignore these populations, the need for these products will always be there. Just like it was mentioned in the Lehrman article, mainstream media does not employ minority groups even to to the point of representation ,and with the shake up many minority journalists have lost their jobs. Even more, the financial crisis is bound to have more reprecussions for low income, minority communities, and ethnic media outlets will be crucial to tell this narrative.

Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross developed the well known and unparalleled model to cope with grief and tragedy, the eponymous Kübler-Ross model. She figured that people deal with great losses in five stages: denial, bargaining, depression, anger and acceptance. Not everyone goes through the same stages, and not everyone goes through them in the same order.

We’ve gone through particularly bad two weeks of news in the industry, and even though I’m well past denial and very much into acceptance modes, I still fluctuate between depression and anger. The thought of the San Francisco Chronicle angers me. The demise of the Rocky Mountain News depresses me. I want to be like Dave Westphal and look at the silver lining, but when I hear there are two start ups vis-a-vis 100 projected layoffs in Los Angeles alone, the math is just not adding up.

Here’s the kicker. We all know the Internet is where it’s at, and I just learned a few days ago that a top honcho in the company where I’m supposed to have a job at the end of the year does not even use e-mail. If the guys at the top still don’t get it, what’s the use of all this?