Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bottomed Out?

The newspaper business is in trouble. Their very existence depends on revenue and the largest chunk of that revenue is derived from advertising. It is diminishing.

Our regional paper, The Spokesman Review, is not immune from such problems. Those of us who hang around it's blogging arena are well aware of it. Not so long ago there were huge cuts in not only reporting and support staff but even the geographical areas of coverage. With a great deal of reshuffling and reassignment it appeared they had gotten a handle on the problem for at least the time being.

A column written about the president of the Better Business Bureau serving eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana, Jan Quintrall, made me wonder if in fact they have. In her column she asks a very valid question. When reporting complaints should names be named or merely categories.

For better than five years she was free to name names, but now those names are being edited out for the most flimsy of reasons. She was told that the editors "believe our readers came away from from your column with exactly the information you sought to convey - be careful when dealing with companies in these 10 industries."

Bunk! Ms. Quintrall goes on to explain the fallacy of this type of thinking - why specific companies are named. It's a no brainer. Not every business in a category is guilty of questionable practices! We probably, at one time or another, patronize businesses in all categories. If certain ones are not serving us well we need to know and that is the function of the Better Business Bureau. It is the one neutral avenue the consumer has!

It also brings into question the ethics of the newspaper and perception. One could assume that some of those named are heavy advertisers. Or is it merely perception? It opens a Pandora's Box on the issue of trust. If one perceives the above, one could also question the credibility of the paper's news coverage. I often point out stories covered by one of the two papers in the area that are not reported by the other. Or the differences in content if covered by both. I've never probed the issue of why.

Is it time? I hope not.


Best Dog Videos said...

The public perceives that the news *should* should be accurate and impartial. To the degree that it is not, people will get their news from other sources. With cable TV and the internet, there is no shortage of alternatives. Content cannot be sacrificed for advertising. I recently heard that CNN is selling "headline t-shirts". If that's not a sign that focus has been lost, I don't know what is.

- Your friends at Best Dog Videos

Dogwalkmusings said...

Your comment is right on. And thanks for stopping by. One reason I continue to blog is because of the people who pop in - and the doors they open for me.

How can I not love a blog like yours!

Rufus said...

News is now entertainment. Period. The REAL reason newspapers are dying is they fail to understand their place in the community. Read Rufus for a full explanation, But, be forewarned, you may have to THINK!!!.