Thursday, July 16, 2009

Latest installment from on

Former FJ editor Tony Dearing defends the new model in the ongoing "new media" series at

A quote from me is also included at the end of the story:

Retired reporter Jim Smith, 61, of Lapeer, questions the wisdom of using “old newspaper people, from failed newspapers at that,” to create a new sort of journalism. Smith was a reporter and columnist at The Flint Journal from 1989 to 2007. He has followed the development of on his blog about journalism, “Free from Editors: Editors, and how bad ones are ruining the newspaper business.”

“Do you think the captain of the Valdez gets a new ship after he runs the old one aground?” he asked rhetorically, referring to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, a devastating human-caused environmental disaster.


Anonymous said...

hogwash hogwash hogwash. is not transparent. have they printed an article about all the people they fired, and how much the new hires are being paid? and how much dearing is being paid?

also, dearing and co. aren't breaking new ground. they just dismantled the ann arbor paper, fired the reporters, and replaced them with half-rate writers.

and this is not an online replacement for the newspaper. they're still printing, just less days. they're not the first news organization to start a web site. this is hyped up BS.


Anonymous said...

Interesting that they continue to mislead their public about transparency, just as others in this company have for decades. There has been no transparency at all. In fact, circulation folks trying to sell the 2-day a week paper have told the public that is working with The Ann Arbor News. Unfortunately, most of the public fails to grasp that the entire News staff save for a very few has been laid off and yet that same staff, in order to get their pitiful severance, being required to "sell" as if it's their own. Disgusting, really.

inky said...

This quote from one of Tony's lieutenants made me gack up my vegan organic soy milk latte made with fair-trade coffee beans:

"In the past, many papers have developed an ivory tower culture of 'We decide the news and we give it to you,' (Stefanie) Murray said. “What the Internet has changed is it's more of a conversation today — more back-and-forth. You have to be willing to have that conversation.”

Uh, really? Members of the community have always had the opportunity to play a role in their community newspapers, because good reporters make it their business to go out and t-a-l-k to people. Why heck, some of these residents turn out to be excellent s-o-u-r-c-e-s for stories -- hard news as well as lifestyle. So pardon me for pointing out the painfully obvious, but is hardly new to the notion that journalism involves talking to people "out there."

No, the real issue seems to have been that at least at The Journal, Tony's last stop on the Booth Implosion Tour, editors thought the reporters were a collection of drooling fungibles. So they met in their secret chambers and conferred story assignments from on high, rather than trust reporters to inform editors of what was going on in the community. And some of these editors did not even live in the coverage area, much less leave the offices on First Street to talk to Real Human Beings (digitaries don't count.)

In a lot of ways Newhouse and GM are doing the same thing. Blow up your old business to get rid of those annoying obligations and then form revolutionary new companies on clean sheets of paper, but led by the same hacks who led the previous businesses to ruin.

Anonymous said...

What I like the best is how TD says that is "filling that void" left by the demise of The Ann Arbor News. Um, CREATED that void. This is what happened to The Ann Arbor News, and I can't seem to figure out how to get the word out beyond blogs that just preaching to the converted.

Here is the deal (with absolutely no intention to speak disparagingly about The Company): Newhouse handsomely compensated diligent mediocrities for operating its monopoly newspapers in the years when owning a monopoly newspaper was still a license to print money. When the money stopped flowing in, neither the Newhouses nor their managers had the vaguest clue on how to turn it around (no intention here to speak disparagingly about The Company - the tanking of the newspaper industry has confounded the entire industry).
Amid stops and starts, action plans and lack of action (not to disparage The Company in any way, but it took Katrina, via the Times-Picayune, to convince Advance that there might be something to those newfangled Internets), Advance settled on Ann Arbor as the best game for its Hail Mary pass: Fold the paper and tell your readership the "print model" is "no longer sustainable." Rename the paper, put it out on the cheap and only on the days when ads will still be reasonably reliable (Sunday and Thursday) once it's the only game in town. Figure out a cheap way to launch a Web site and spend buckets of corporate advertising money to tout it as local and distance it from the online disaster known as MLive. Put proven mediocrities in charge. Fire everybody else. Rehire some them at 60% to 70% of what they used to make to work brutal hours at the new operation.
The best part of working for Advance? When times were flush, we were paid well and enjoyed fantastic benefits. The worst? Working for people who had no understanding of, let alone respect for, their readership.

Jim of L-Town said...

Inky, Amen and Amen.

You just summed up in one comment what I've been stumbling to say for a long time.

I could just fold up my tent and go away.

But I won't.

Jim of L-Town said...

Anonymous 11:22:

Another great post.

The statement that is "filling the void" left by the demise of the Ann Arbor News is like an attorney arguing for mercy for his client who killed his parents on the basis that the defendant is now "an orphan."

I actually covered a case where an attorney argued (unsuccessfully, thankfully) that his juvenile client was due the inheritance of his parents who he just killed.

"He will need some money to get his life together after he gets out of juvenile detention," was the lawyer's argument.

The judge saw through the tremendous gall it took to bring that argument and gave the money elsewhere.

(That was a well-publicized case near Clarkston where a young man killed his mother and sister and then waited in ambush for his father to come home and killed him back in the 1980s. Some of you may remember that case).