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August 19, 2008

Comments

Zossima

Greg, I agree that the demise of newspapers is something to be concerned about. I don't have an answer from the religion news perspective. But voting is closely tied to newspaper readership, for one. Newspaper readership has been declining steadily for some time. (It's probably too easy, yet not entirely inaccurate, to note the correlation with the rise of redneck state voters and their talkshow overlords.)

While CNN, Fox News, etc., long ago abdicated their role as journalists for some he said/she said lets-go-to-commercial tripe, newspapers and magazines have remained an important source for true investigation.

I suspect that if print versions disappear, subscription online versions will gain some traction that really has been impossible for publishers to obtain at this point. The real question is, will it be enough to sustain them?

At the same time, I think it's important to note the role of the big papers in the drumbeat to Iraq, silence over this neocon bullshit, etc. The fourth estate has lost a lot of credibility. It's a big reason why I quit subscribing. (I quit subscribing when the Houston Chronicle, who could have had a Pulitzer for exposing the Enron story in its own backyard, clearly soft-pedaled the story, leaving it for the WSJ and others to uncover.)

I dig blogging. I believe bloggers can make a difference with their own investigations. I believe they can keep the heat on politicians. But there is a lot of shit out there. Most bloggers are butt-stupid; they can't distinguish between fact and innuendo. They can't compose a cogent argument. They can't source an article. So, if newspapers go, where are the reliable sources?

And maybe that's the challenge: To be a reliable source in a changing media space.

Matt

My local Gannett rag has had salespeople camped outside my grocery store for weeks now practically giving away newspaper subscriptions.

I inquired the other day and was told I could get the daily delivery for $13 a month for three months and on top of that they'd give me a $15 grocery card.

I was a news reporter for seven years and I still freelance for a couple of rags so I have an undying devotion to newspapers. Still, I just can't get myself to commit to spending any money at all when I can access all of the same crap online for free.

I don't know what the future holds for newspapers, much less religion news, but it definitely doesn't look promising.

Account Deleted

Greg,

Poignant as usual. I subscribe to what our dentist refers to as, The Daily Disappointment. I preferred the Dallas Morning News when living in Texas. Your fifth point is especially noteworthy for me. The sad reality that even practitioners of any faith are not finding compelling reasons to help people understand why their own faith is important speaks volumes.

JonXlin

I think the Dallas Morning News still does a few religion stories now and again, they just don't have their own section anymore. A good number of months ago they had an interesting poll about the percentage of different personal beliefs among different religious groups, including atheists.

I sometimes see religion being talked about in the opinions section, especially useful when the religious undercurrent of an important event isn't discussed in the regular articles.

I don't think religious reporting is dead, it's just getting diffused into a large number of other areas.

JonXlin

Ah, here's a copy of the article. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/062408dnrelpewstudy.2f6d9020.html

As you can see it was posted under the local news section.

Sidney

Once, I was out hiking and had to sling some mud. I didn't have any toilet paper and so I had to wipe with the editorial page and part of my nearly finished sudoku puzzle.

I hope the internet doesn't completely take the place of the newspaper because you can't wipe with a monitor (or can you?)

dr dobson

Greg

Not that I'm defending the local dailies as being brilliant when it comes to marketing (when most of them leave it to the Beaver and Eddie to peddle subscriptions door to door by bicycle), but one could make the same exact arguments when discussing broadcasting (which you essentially have above)--pure and simply, the market has dictated the death of the daily, not some editorial decision. Moreover, the lack of or sparse religion coverage has become extinct for the same reason. We can thank USA Today for dumbing down the daily and showing us cool and clever graphs, charts and "read-by-numbers" reporting.

I have subscribed to the WSJ for years now and one of the best moves they did was to add a Saturday edition. The writing is excellent, the articles are spot-on and relevant and they force the reader to think about what he/she is reading. I have also subscribed to the NYT for years and I have slowly watched that once-excellent paper dwindle into nothing but a monochromatic USA Today. Sometimes I think the only worthwhile section of the NYT is the Travel section, which is still exellent (though the format is too contrived and tired).

Didn't Darwin say something like "it isn't the strongest that survive, but that which is most capable of embracing change"? Unfortunately, papers that adapt or change to meet their "market" are not bringing the market up to their once-excellent standard; they are dropping their own guard down to the point of being irrelevant for all except those who never learned to read in the first place.

The success of the OKG has been due to it knowing its market and staying there. It does an excellent job of toeing that line. Our local south Florida OKG-equivalent weekly is nothing more than a fraternity-turned-newspaper with stories of feigned virility and yet another defense of legalizing weed--both topics being very tired and stupid wastes of trees.

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