Jul 01 2009

Before We ‘Save’ Journalism

The future of news reporting shouldn't reproduce its past

Time: How to Save Your Newspaper

One thing to keep in mind while worrying about the future of journalism is that its past hasn’t been all that great either. Journalism ought to be judged not on the profits it makes for stockholders but on the service it provides to democracy. By that measure, the reporting profession has been falling down on the job: Leading us into an aggressive war with evidence based on lies (FAIR Media Advisory, 3/19/07), overlooking an asset bubble whose predictable deflation devastated our economy (Extra!, 11-12/08), failing to raise alarms about the erosion of key civil liberties (Extra!, 5-6/08). And it’s not […]

Jul 01 2009

Local Heroes

A new media model may be right around the corner—literally

First came the waves of consolidation that swallowed up independent newspapers across the country. Now, as more newsrooms shrink and shutter in the Internet age, the local daily paper may be verging on extinction. But in many communities, a new tide of experimental Web-based ventures is moving to fill in the holes left by declining corporate media. These emerging “hyperlocal” models—ranging from slick news aggregators to more traditional pavement-pounding reporting—focus on a certain geographic area and draw from an array of local sources, like reader announcements, government records and Twitter. Though individual sites aim to capture the peculiarities of the […]

Jul 01 2009

Letters to the Editor

The Hannity Prescription I enjoyed your coverage of the media quarantine of single-payer health plans (6/09). I was particularly tickled by the quote of this right-wing fanatic Sean Hannity. His is idea was that if we look at France, England or Canada, we would see that single-payer is the worst thing. I then checked the life expectancy in these three countries. It seems that their citizens all live longer than we Americans. I guess the slogan should be, “Listen to Hannity and live a shorter life!” Donald Kahn Minneapolis, Minn. Unfair to Chris Matthews I am a donor to FAIR […]

Jul 01 2009

Infomercials Amok

Paid programming a win-win-lose for owners, marketers and the public

When critics talk about “saving journalism,” the image one gets is of ink-stained toilers bringing important truths into the light of public scrutiny. But this bears little relation to most people’s experience of news media. For one thing, most people get their news from TV, not generally the poster child for journalism worth saving. Certainly, television has brought us many fine news and public affairs programs. But if we are trying to assess the kind of job TV does informing the public, it seems silly not to acknowledge that informing the public is not mainly what it does. What it […]

Jul 01 2009

Building a Better Journalism

Media activists and scholars share their ideas

Extra! asked progressive media activists and scholars to share their ideas on how to make journalism’s future better than its present; the following are some of the highlights. The one thing that we should do in the face of the erosion of commercial journalism is invest heavily in libraries. That means we should publicly support the human capital, technological tools, and collections of public, school and university libraries.The problem is not journalism per se. It’s the health of the public sphere, of which quality journalism is a major part. So if we accept that the landscape we have grown accustomed […]

Jul 01 2009

Did Google Kill the Newspaper Star?

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/FindYourSearch

While the Internet in general is sometimes fingered as the newspaper industry’s problem, these days the search engine Google seems to get more attention, and vitriol, from corporate media. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd (4/15/09) summed up the media industry’s complaint: Robert Thomson, the top editor of the Wall Street Journal, denounced websites like Google as “tapeworms.” His boss, Rupert Murdoch, said that big newspapers do not have to let Google “steal our copyrights.” The AP has threatened to take legal action against Google and others that use the work of news organizations without obtaining permission and sharing a […]

Jul 01 2009


Guessing the Views of Pro-Choice Advocates New York Times reporter Charlie Savage (5/28/09) reported on the “unease” some abortion rights advocates feel about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, because “when she has written opinions that touched tangentially on abortion disputes, she has reached outcomes in some cases that were favorable to abortion opponents.” Savage cited rulings in favor of the Bush administration’s reinstatement of the global gag rule, in favor of anti-abortion protesters being able to sue police for using excessive force and in favor of Chinese refugees seeking asylum because of China’s forced abortion policies. […]

Jul 01 2009

Proposed Cure: More of the Disease

Some voices in the corporate media have pushed for government intervention to relax ownership restrictions in order to allow for the creation of even bigger media conglomerates—which seems a bit like a hangover victim’s thirst for the hair of the dog that bit them. New York Times reporter Carr (5/9/09) confessed that while as a younger reporter he viewed media consolidation as “the dark overlords of the newspaper industry” meeting to “decid[e] how to set prices and the news agenda at the same time,” at this moment of crisis, “I’m hoping that meeting takes place. I’ll even buy the cigars.” […]