Posts Tagged ‘Media’

h1

Iranian-American journalist on hunger strike

May 5, 2009

You’ve likely noticed the several posts here about Roxana Saberi, the American journalist who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on espionage charges. Apparently, over the past two weeks, Saberi has been on a hunger strike, and when Iranian officials denied this, she went full on and stopped drinking water too and has since been hospitalized.

Although it’s somewhat less noticeable now, when Saberi was initially arrested, we heard too few calls of support from the mainstream press. It’s true that Reporters Sans Frontiers are now staging protests outside the Iranian Embassy, but initially, concern was coming either from Saberi’s family or diplomatic circles. This, as a wry friend observed, was because she’s professionally part of the pariah class, the freelancer.

Here’s more from the Washington Post.

h1

Death of Newspapers?

March 17, 2009

newspapers31As I noted in an earlier post the disappearance of newspapers often means corruption increases. What wasn’t addressed in that post is the grand kibbitz going on now: What did the newspapers in?

Conventional wisdom has the Internet as its culprit, but that’s simplistic and naive. Long before the Internet was making inroads into the newspapers’ market share, newspaper owners got giddy over who could cut costs faster. If you have a chance to speak with a Vietnam-era foreign correspondent, ask them about well-staffed foreign bureaus, per diem pay, and corporate accounts. I’m not saying those journalists were living large, but what passes for a foreign bureau now is risible compared with its predecessor.

And it wasn’t only foreign bureaus. After the glory days of American investigative journalism, newspapers began cutting their investigative staff as well, and in a race to see who could garner the largest quarterly profits, newspaper owners cut time and again, and now they’re gobsmacked that nothing’s left.

Any newspaper in the country that depends on wire services for stories on New York and D.C., but just laid off its local sports reporter is a paper destined to fail. Just as all politics is local, in the end, all news is as well.  As tiring as it is to see so many blaming technology, it’s nice that there’s at least one industry insider who gets it. I suspect there are many, many more who decided to stay silent trying to preserve their positions.

But here’s a taste of what columnist Bill Virgin has to say on the last day of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. While I disagree with his contention of how newspapers drove away conservatives, the bulk of his argument is sound:

 … Or at least newspapers did until they began lopping away content and features readers had come to expect. The rationale the industry used was that readers could and would get that information elsewhere, especially online, so why waste valuable print real estate on them? But the message readers got from the newspapers was they ought to go elsewhere for TV listings, stock quotes and the like. Surprisingly enough, readers took the advice and did.

(snip)

Until now. In business there is a phenomenon known as the death spiral, in which the measures intended to rescue a company or industry not only fail to stem the losses, they actually accelerate the decline. In the case of newspapers, the loss of readers and advertisers led to cuts in content and features and greater irrelevancy, which led to more lost readers and advertisers, which led to still more cuts, which led to …

As he says, where we are today.

h1

When newspapers wither, corruption increases

February 26, 2009

negggwspapers2I have a close friend who has been in the newspaper business longer than I have actively pursued journalism. This point, that when a community newspaper dies, inevitably corruption increases, is one she makes time and again. I trust her because she’s worked at a number of community newspapers in my home state, several in small towns and rural areas—areas she would often visit after one had lost its paper.

This New Republic piece elaborates further on the consequences of losing our watchdogs.

A graf:

One danger of reduced news coverage is to the integrity of government. It is not just a speculative proposition that corruption is more likely to flourish when those in power have less reason to fear exposure. The World Bank produces an annual index of political corruption around the world, based on surveys of people who do business in each country. In a study published in 2003 in The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Alicia Adsera, Carles Boix, and Mark Payne examine the relationship between corruption and “free circulation of daily newspapers per person” (a measure of both news circulation and freedom of the press). … Using different measures, they also find a similar relationship across states within the United States: the lower the news circulation, the greater the corruption

Overall it’s a lengthy piece, so will take some time.  For someone in the blogosphere who’s particularly adept at dismantling arguments about who, precisely, is at fault for all this, you should regularly read Athenae over at First Draft.