Thursday, November 01, 2007

No News Is NOT Good News

Just this past August there was an article in The Economist entitled Who killed the newspaper? The lead sentence was The most useful bit of media is disappearing. A cause of concern, but not panic...

Unless you live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and depend on the only regional paper, The Spokesman Review, to provide a balance to the hometown paper.

Those of us who read both are well aware of the financial difficulties the Spokesman has been facing. We've seen something coming for months but I, at least, did not expect the slap in the face just given to northern Idaho. The North Idaho Bureau has been woefully understaffed for sometime. Coverage has been shrinking steadily. When a paper has to recruit bloggers to report from outlying regions you know something is amiss. Not to take away from the ability of the bloggers; in many cases they are equally as good as the reporters.

You know things are amiss when city council meetings aren't covered, first in small rural communities then finally Coeur d'Alene itself. Now we learn in the cost cutting effort the staff has been cut to the bone. It hasn't been a northern Idaho edition for a long time; now even Coeur d'Alene has been smacked big time.

With all due respect to Dave Oliveria and his blog; the fact that he has survived and reporters have been cut is disturbing. Dave's blog is not hard news. It is commentary and opinion driven by like minded individuals. I've been a part of it since I began blogging a couple of years ago. I'd hate to see it go away for it has given me opportunities I'd never have had otherwise. But if it meant more news coverage for a wider area, I'd say "let it go".

I know editor Steve Smith has been a strong proponent of blogging and I believe is trying to see if the format can revitalize what had been traditional print news media.

It's not there yet. It will be interesting to see how things shake out over the next several days. What changes will be mandated for the North Idaho Bureau and indeed what changes will be asked of Huckleberries Online.

I sense there is going to be a huge vacuum for a time. This is not a good thing. I'd rather have seen a plan in place before the shakeup. Perhaps there is one. The news has just hit. I'll be watching and waiting and if bloggers can be of legitimate help in filling the gap and I can be of help, count me in.

Make no mistake. This is not asking for a job. Obviously, since they've just made drastic cuts. I haven't the credentials anyway. The citizens need the skills of professional journalists to keep them informed. And the media, if they want to maintain their own legitimacy needs to provide that professionalism. Stop gap measures are a disservice and an insult to those you want to retain as subscribers.

1 comment:

Bill McCrory said...

On page B1 of Saturday's The Spokesman-Review Northwest page, Idaho Edition, there is an article headlined, "Teens can investigate career in journalism."
The lead reads, "High school students interested in a journalism career can get anintroduction in the field starting next week at The Spokesman-Review."

More cruel irony and greedy hypocrisy from Steve, Betsy, and Stacey.