About

  • Mitch Harper, editor [contact via email]

    Original content, commentary and analysis © 2005 - 2016 Fort Wayne Observed

    Banner photo © Everett White. Used by permission, all rights reserved.
My Photo

Comments

  • Fort Wayne Observed welcomes reader comments as a way to facilitate discussion and debate.

    In order to leave a comment, you must also leave your full name and a working email address in the event Fort Wayne Observed contacts you for confirmation. You may request that your email address not be published when your comment is posted.

    Anonymous comments or those that include coarse language or personal attacks will not be tolerated.

Updates

Your Take

Indiana Blogs

statistics



  • eXTReMe Tracker

Become a Fan

« Heather Headley Pictured Performing at the We Are One Concert | Main | Rob Young Resigns as Head of Economic Development Alliance »

Comments

Jason Blosser

One of the worst things that could happen to this great country is the demise of the "NY Times."

If they go under, I'll have to resort to lining the cat box with "The Journal Gazette."

There's just something about the odor absorbency of the paper used by the Times.

K.E. Casey

Let it die, I say, and Old World Journalism along with it.

Robert Pence

It will be a sad day when I have to read the news from a monitor. I've been in recovery from television for more than two years, and I've taken comfort in newspapers, from the "News-and-Sentinel" spread on the living room rug when I was eight or nine, to settling into my recliner nowadays with the Journal Gazette and a big mug full of strong, fresh-brewed coffee.

Sitting in front of a glowing screen with a mouse and keyboard at my fingertips just isn't appropriate to my long-time ritual.

Roger McNeill

The loss of the NY Times would not be the disaster. The disaster happened long ago when "journalism" was traded in for cheerleader uniforms, all with "LEFT WING CRAZY" squarely pasted across the chest, complete with pom poms.

The demise of the NY Times? It can't happen soon enough. You sold out journalism when you put the Opinion Section on Page 1 and you let the country down when you shirked your check-and-balance responsibility.

Good riddance, and feel free to drag the rest of the dinosaur press with you.

Andrew Jarosh

Yeah, let's cheer the demise of The Times and other dinosaur press and hail to the new newsmakers, the blogsters of this world. They don't fact check as a rule, they float rumors and they take innuendo at face value and peddle it all to the sodden, unwashed masses as information you can take to the bank. It's opinion masquerading as objective news, pure and simple, from much of these blogs and supposed news-sites in vogue these days.
From a working daily journalist, first print and now print and Internet, in his 30th year in the industry.
AJ

Ed. note: I have often compared the state of blogging to that of newspapering in the late 19th century. There were bad, very bad, and some good newspapers. The reading public began to sort out the credible from the uncredible.

You may wish to review Hirschorn's comments regarding the Mumbai terrorist coverage.

Robert Enders

Robert Pence,
There are now hand held electronic readers available. You can read those in bed. Some of the more advanced models like the Amazon Kindle are easier on the eyes than staring at a CRT monitor.

If an online edition isn't worth as much to an advertiser, what does this mean to the future of advertising? I think that accurate stat counters and pay-per-click ads could provide more cost-effective results to advertisers, and thus more revenue for online journalism. If not, I guess I'll have to get my news from someone who does not have a corporate sponsor.

Brett Hess

"It's opinion masquerading as objective news...." I'm confused, was this in reference to newspapers or blogs?

Yes, and now that The Times and other members of the "dinosaur press" have become so brazingly transparent in their liberal views, it's no wonder they are becoming extinct. They don't even TRY to come across as objective.

And this comes from a 25-year veteran of the print media. In the 80s and 90s I sat through way too many newsroom budget meetings where the primary objective was to appease the higher-ups by carrying out their agendas.

Andrew Jarosh

There's no medium, good or bad, that to this day does better adhering to objective, fair journalism than daily newspapers. You can mention all the exceptions - and I can as well. But as one of those aforementioned "higher-ups" I know my everyday "agenda" here in Fort Myers is watchdog, objective journalism, with a "liberal" dose of stories offering a slice of life from southwest Florida as a glorious spot to visit and live in.
AJ

tim zank

No matter what product you are selling, be it hamburgers, newspapers, widgets, whatever, when you effectively dismiss over half of your potential customer base, you will not stay in business.

It's not exactly rocket science. Good riddance.

Nancy Nall

I'm calling shenanigans on Brett Hess. If you're going to make statements like that, at least give a few details. I've sat in many newspaper budget meetings/hand-wringing sessions, too, and I never once heard anyone say, "We need to cover X more because publisher Y thinks whatever, and then s/he'll give us more money." Not even close. That's not how so-called bias gets into journalism, and if you indeed have 25 years of experience in print journalism, you'd know that.

Here are my memories: Sitting over coffee with Andrew Jarosh, discussing how the budget had been cut so much that the News-Sentinel metro desk, which once had a full-time staffer in Indianapolis, was now charged with covering an eight-week legislative session with a freelance budget of $300. (We couldn't even hire Brett Hess with that kind of money!) We once paid our summer interns, and then we paid them less, and then we paid them nothing. We had reporters to cover city, county and courts, then combined city-county into one beat and dropped regular court coverage entirely. By the time I left in 2005, a top editor said we could fairly be called a "niche" newspaper, although she never elaborated what niche we were serving, other than people who don't want a very good newspaper.

Sure, it'll be great when the New York Times folds. Sure, close up their Baghdad bureau, and then you'll get just what you want -- Joe the Plumber, war correspondent. Dissolve their business desk, currently doing heroic reporting on the financial crisis; those WaMu bankers will be buying Aston Martins with TARP money then. Nuke their metro desk, which wrote the best and most concise stories about the US Airways plane crash; some guy Twittered a picture from a ferryboat, so we're all good.

Hell, why even worry about them? Wait until the FWN both fold. Then you'll get city council reporting from Mitch Harper, but that's OK, because he's transparent, and if you don't trust his blog you can read 18 other blogs and try to figure out which one is closest to the truth. You'll also have TV, I guess. A local lawyer once told me about having a shiny new reporter from Channel 33 come into his office, plop into a chair and ask her first question: "Where is New Haven, anyway?"

Believe me, I have little love for the newspaper business -- many of their problems are self-inflicted and the result of stupid, pigheaded management over the course of decades. But they do important work in a democratic society, work that isn't being done now by blogs or anyone else. I heard a Stanford University professor on the radio the other day saying he doesn't read newspapers, he reads Google News, which is apparently staffed by, what? News-gathering fairies? I've come to think that what needs to happen now is meltdown, so we can see just what Hirschorn means when he says, " But a disaster? In the long run, maybe not." No, maybe not. They say the fallout from a nuclear war would only take a few thousand years to blow over. In the meantime, we'll have the world Brett Hess and others here seem to want -- ignorant.

Robert Enders

Andrew Jarosh,
Is it really possible for you to be an objective observer of the objectivity of newspapers when you work for one?

Einstein said that there was no privileged vantage point in the universe. It is far better to be upfront about your potential bias than it is to pretend to be a neutral observer.

Andrew Jarosh

Robert, et al:
It's rather simple this entire objectivity talk. I'm a Democrat. I'm from New York City. And I'm uber-liberal on social matters (the nerve of guys telling women what to do with their child-rearing bodies or what the hell I can look at, no matter how disgusting, as long as children aren't involved!) But if I assign a reporter to a planned parenthood event, for example, and don't give the other side fair opportunity to get their point of view across in a news story, the story will be flagged by an editor above me, and I will be fired, as I should. The checks and balances are built into the machinery of news-reporting, like with our system of government.
We all have opinions, like we all have assholes. But I do a good job of keeping both of mine covered up.
AJ

tim zank

Gotta hand it to ya Nance, you paint a mighty glum picture there in the "post-print" era we seem destined for. Seems we'll never get an accurate account of anything ever again, eh?

Damn, how did society ever get an accurate accounting of any events prior to the American journalist?

You know, The NYT has been published for 158 years, which is a mighty small span of time, all things considered.

"The earliest variation on a newspaper was a daily sheet published in 59 BC in Rome called Acta Diurna (Daily Events), which Julius Caesar ordered posted throughout the city. The earliest known printed newspaper was in Beijing in 748." (courtesy of http://www.newspaper-industry.org/history.html)

I'm sure when those papers threw in the towel, they assumed civilization was doomed as well, eh?

Get over yourself. We'll adapt.

Brett Hess

Oh Nancy….be careful what you wish for. Here goes:
(Warning, some dialogue contains newsroom language.)

Ask anyone who worked for Gannett back in the 90s about News 2000. It was a quarterly “contest” directed by Gannett headquarters. Each quarter brought a different issue (agenda) that papers would be graded on. By graded I don’t just mean every paper’s scores would be posted in every newsroom, I mean graded in that promotions and firings of editors and publishers (and, ultimately, reporters) resulted in these scores.
Issues were, for the most part, honorable. But any time you threaten someone with their job, in the interest of scoring high in an agenda-driven contest, all hell breaks loose. You chase “high scores” and not real news. Simple news stories are injected with steroids and published as huge, heavily-promoted productions. And while writers and editors were injecting this particular story with steroids, several other newsworthy stories were forsaken.
I’ll leave you with this exchange between my assistant editor at the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun and I, a spots copy editor. Were in the daily news budget meeting and the contest at this time was minority presence. And, we’d received a tip that this particular week was critical. Bonus points or something. Minority presence wasn’t hard for sports to do well in, for obvious reasons, so I wasn’t too worried. But then one of the sportswriters, no doubt looking to score some points, turns in a story on how to train for a marathon. Her source was the area’s top marathoner, a Mexican-American.
Editor: Brett, your minority presence for tomorrow?
Brett: We have a story on training for a marathon. Our source is Julio Martinez (not his real name).
Editor: Well, where’s the minority presence?
Brett: Uh…Julio.
Editor: Do I have to do your (effing) job for you? You know better than to come in here with this s**t. I want you to call a (effing) minority and put him in the (effing) story.
*Note: This guy used the word (effing) like a sailor. There was time when he stood up from editing a story, screamed into the face of the writer, then repeatedly slammed his keyboard down on the desk screaming clusterF*** over and over.
Brett: We don’t have any minority distance runners in the area.
Editor: G*d damn! You know damn well we have a source book. Call a (effing) minority doctor and ask him if you need to see a doctor before training for a marathon!

Now, granted, this editor was an evil person who was eventually fired due to numerous human resource violations, but only after he was promoted to top editor of another paper due to the Sun's News2000 scores.
But the fact was these “contests” were really agendas used to shape local news.

Andrew  Jarosh

Sigh.
Here in Fort Myers, unemployment has reached 10 percent, mostly because people aren't building homes. We are inundated with criticism from chamber of commerce types, and homebuilders, and developers (some of whom are advertisers), to forgo the gloom and doom housing industry coverage. Guess what? We haven't.
AJ

Roger McNeill

Nice debate folks!!! If there was this much honesty in the newspapers, they might survive.

Of course, the problem is that we KNOW that all the above is nothing more that peoples' opinions. On Page 1, we're never sure.

Shawn McGrath

Sigh.
News-gathering fairies.
Sigh, again.

Both are right, as is Brett Hess (to a certain degree).

As a former NS alum, and (in full disclosure) someone who views AJ as a mentor still, but disagrees with his social leanings (I'm much more conservative), I find myself with Nancy and AJ.

You're not going to get the full truth from part-time, unpaid bloggers.

A blogger isn't going to sit through a two-hour school board meeting, or outside a winter crime scene for an hour, for free.

Weasels and chicken coops, like my grandmother used to say, springs to mind.

But for Brett's sake, I have worked for Gannett, and I've seen some of the goofiness. He's not very far off, but I had a decent experience.

Shawn McGrath

Mea Culpa. I work late for the dinosaur. I'm not a "former NS alum," just an alum. The copy editors are always the first to go. Reporters next. Designers last. My news pretty!

Andrew Jarosh

I doubt a blogger would sit through a two-hour school board meeting or outside a winter crime scene for an hour for the kind of pay we get, let alone for free. They don't have our commitment.
AJ

Ed. note: No, no, of course not. Except for bloggers like Stephen Parker, Scott Spaulding, Jeff Pruitt et. al who do actually sit through long public meetings.

Toby Mac

I sometimes attend public meetings and know many of the bloggers referenced by Mitch in the previous comment.

It is the norm for these guys to stay longer than the local press does. When I compare the coverage between these two medias I do find there is a difference in coverage.

The traditional media's coverage is usually easier to read but lacks the understanding and fails to question any decision made.

The bloggers, while not as polished in their writings, show a much better grasp of the topic, personalities, and conflicts involved at these meetings.

The comments to this entry are closed.