Category Archives: Media

Journalism 201

I just commented on Rob Karwath’s limp defense of journalists getting into bed with advertisers. No doubt Rob would resent that analysis and I’ll admit he did put in lots of caveats, but that was my take. I know its not easy being a print journalist these days. Circulation declines at major papers are accelerating. The Trib is woefully understaffed compared to the past and its local news coverage keeps shrinking.

Compared to Karwath’s column the one written and published on 4-26-2009 by the CEO of Forum Communications was positively bullish:

Who said newspapers are dinosaurs, extinct, obsolete? I don’t think so. Newspapers today, both in print and online, have more readers than ever.

Unless you plan to spring for $2.95 to read it don’t bother looking for it. Its already hidden away on the Net.

As I read it I was thinking to myself that if the owners of the newspapers have to tell us they are doing well it was a little like the CEO of General Motors telling me to buy a Humvee because America’s automotive business was headed for a come back. I’m a Trib subscriber. I want to believe this. Its just that I used to spend an hour reading the Trib each day. Now its more like fifteen minutes. I read the Trib for local news and only local reporters write those. Whose left to tell them?

Journalism 101

I read Rob Karwath’s apologia today. According to Rob there is no great conflict of interest between reporters and a Paper’s business office.

Rob was making a spirited defense for being a good businessman as well as an editor. Rob described the good old days before so many major newspapers got bought and over leveraged by quick buck investors. Back in the day according to Rob:

“For years, it was. When I started as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, journalists would become visibly angry when the publisher appeared on the fourth floor, which housed the newsroom. ‘What’s he doing on our floor?’ they would huff.”

I always took as an article of faith that the separation between the reporters and the advertisers was a chasm. I’d like to think the Publisher would remain distant from the stories covered by the Trib. I presume that his is still the ethic taught by the nation’s journalism schools. Clear Channel, Rupert Murdoch and even Forum Communications are all encroaching on this separation. The latter wrote the Trib’s editorial endorsement for John McCain.

Public Info – Thanks DNT

Thanks to the perseverance of the Trib the public will soon be able to learn all about this little fellow. Meet Moloch. Page/Moloch1_30.jpg

After the Trib’s demand to see all the dog licenses in Duluth I found this letter in the mail this afternoon.

Moloch sometimes acts like a dog. He fetches and wags his tail which is only as long as my index finger.

We got Moloch and his “sister” Tanit from the Humane Society a couple years ago and today Moloch is a little tank. I swear he’s going to kill me someday when he races ahead of me down the stairs and I trip over him.

Now if the Trib would ask for some of the public data School Board member Glass keeps asking for but which the District rarely if ever provides to him.

Can’t say as I’ll miss him

Steve McLister, the Trib’s publisher is leaving. When I wrote a column talking about how the poobah’s at the Trib were fly by night residents Mr. McLister took umbrage and told me he planned to live in Duluth a long time.

A number of Red Plan critics met with him last summer. He reminded me of the tough talking, butch cut, cartoon editor of Peter Parker’s cartoon newspaper in the Spider Man comics. He told us he thought the Red Plan might end up being a “trainwreck” and how he wanted to put a televised forum of pro and con Red Plan spokesman on the tube. Nothing came of that. Now he’s leaving. Too late.

Reports of the passing of Pasek Drugs are exaggerated

My letter did have one bit of misinformation. Pasek Pharmacy lives on. That’s how I learned that my letter was in the paper. The new owner called and corrected me – very nicely I might add. He said he would send me a Pasek Teddy Bear and will now work to correct my report that the drug store is closed.

I told him that just after I wrote of his drug store’s demise that I saw an ad for the new drug store which is located just below the old YWCA. I asked him if the paper corrected my death notice (because of yesterday’s blizzard the Trib has yet to arrive at my house) and he told me they hadn’t.

I better make my mea culpa more public. If I get a teddy I’ll take a picture and post it before giving it to my grandson.

The Trib can take it

I frankly didn’t think the Trib would print my most recent letter to the editor. I was wrong and bless the editors for letting me use them as a punching bag.

I’ve always been impressed with a good newspaper’s willingness to let their readers read them the riot act. That’s not usually true of small local weeklies like the Proctor Journal who’s owner recently was appointed by the City Council to fill a city council vacancy despite his owing $200,000 in unpaid back taxes to Proctor. It probably helped that the Journal wouldn’t publish a story about Proctor Mayor Anderson’s using his position as President of the Proctor Economic Development Authority to purchase a $200,000 parcel of city land for $50,000 even though the State Auditor described the deal as malfeasance.

My guess is that the journalists on the Trib are furious with the medaling by Forum Communications and its stripping down of the paper to save money which gives subscribers less reason to read it and which in turn gives advertisers less reason to buy ads. Its a death spiral. Snotty letters like mine may be one way of letting their corporate overlords know how shortsighted their business decisions are.