In today’s show I addressed, what many considered to be, the obvious…the bias of the local paper – The Tallahassee Democrat.
Not all agree that there is a bias. But there is and an honest, objective look at the public record proves it over and over again. Some have suggested that this is good for my program, but whether it is or isn’t the reality of the decline of the local paper is truly sad and it hurts us all.
The newspaper industry is barely hanging on. The trade publications show that the local paper’s parent company, Gannett, is selling off or leasing empty space from its shrinking newsrooms all over the country. It’s a matter of time for Tallahassee. So, why is it that the newspaper industry is sinking?
I think there are two primary reasons that can be subdivided into dozens. One, the industry did not properly anticipate the digital age and it got left behind. Personally, I believe there is a way to maintain a print version while fully maximizing online content. But, why give that up for free?
The second reason is the one that matters most to you and me…the newspaper industry, with rare exceptions, discredited itself. It did so over the course of decades of slowly forgetting basic rules of journalism. It started to read its own press. Newspapers forgot that mission one is informing, not opining. It’s job is to cover the news – what’s happened, what’s happening, and what will happen. Behind those three basic priorities come the opinions of some members of the staff in their columns.
The problem is that it has become inverted. Some news editors have decided to censor or filter by not covering certain events or misrepresent others because it does not fit their personal agendas. In essence, their opinions are found through the news, the information and not merely contained in the Op/Ed pages or the personal blogs.
Don’t believe my analysis? Just look at the newspaper industry. It’s hemorrhaging money. Advertisers are dwindling, deciding to take their message to specific listeners, viewers, or, in the case of the guys twirling signs on the street, directly to people.
Today’s papers, including the local one, have betrayed the trust of its readers and with so many other sources for information readers are fleeing and taking their money with them.
I have never pretended to be a journalist – that’s not what I do. However, after careful reflection, maybe my show offers a little more proper news content than I give it credit for – we interview the news makers and allow their words to speak for themselves. Then, I offer opinion, if I choose. In our interviews – you get questions and whatever the guest wants to offer as an answer or comment. What you do not get is an editor to determine what you hear, or in the case of newspapers, what you read.
We are a better community when we have a vibrant, fair, and objective newspaper.
However, when a local news editor suggests that it’s wrong for a candidate to appear on my show because that editor does not like I me – well, that’s pathetic and it casts a shadow over everything that the paper prints.
By the way: the issue seems to be that I like and agree with much of what the Tea Party stands for (which basically saved America through the 2010 election). So, the thinking is that a candidate better not appear on my show or else.
It reveals a remarkable lack of judgment and a poor understanding of what all of do in the media. Can you even imagine a reporter from WCTV ever say to a candidate that they better not talk to the newspaper or talk radio? Some e-mailers suggest it is a sign of nothing more complicated than an out-of-control ego.
Is it possible that when looking at the local coverage in the local paper the personal feelings and biases are revealed in what is covered and what is not? And not just what is covered, but how? Only the people inside that building know the truth and some of them are talking.
Regardless, it all explains what has gone wrong with the newspaper industry. It has lost the trust of the readers.