Saturday, August 1, 2009

An interesting perspective on reporting and reporters

This LA Times column did a nice job of talking about an issue not usually discussed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Since it looks like only you can create new posts (not a complaint, just an observation), I'm attaching my question to this post, even though it's not on point ... As a longtime ex-FJ reporter, what is your take on the assertion that the FJ is largely to blame for its own failures 1) because the paper didn't adapt early enough to an online business/news model (see GM's only recent dalliance with eBay, something that easily could've been tried a decade ago) and 2) speaking of GM, because the FJ wasn't nearly critical enough of GM in its coverage and/or editorials. My recollection is the FJ was more of a lapdog than a watchdog when it came to GM and only elliptically criticized GM in calling -- probably too late -- for a more diverse economy or some such. I do recall an occasional swipe at union militancy or missteps but generally the paper seemed too cozy to GM management and the unions -- in short, GM. Had the FJ AND the Detroit papers actually provided more analytical and critical coverage of the complete disaster that is now GM, one wonders if things might be different -- at least not so bad that GM had to preoccupy our president and the nation for months -- at a stupendous cost -- when we could've focused on other pressing issues. GM is responsible for huge societal and cultural issues in Michigan (generations who forsake a college education for lifelong employment no longer part of the nation's employment contract; thousands of people who take early outs in their 40s and then do nothing except become a burden on society for decades -- something that is rarely reported; and GM's walking away via its surgical bankruptcy from huge cleanup costs associated with polluted sites). One might be tempted to say the FJ is part of a broader Michigan culture that, for good or ill, is protective of GM. But because of GM's long history in Flint, I would argue that the paper had more of an obligation to be more analytical and critical. Like him or not, it was left up to Michael Moore to fill that important niche. A paper cannot be as subjective as one of Moore's flicks, but it can get same message across editorially over time. But it never happened. I believe GM's union and management leadership should be held far more to blame, far more accountable then they are. They should be ashamed to even show their faces. Yet, in Michigan, we're still reluctant to criticize their roles -- when by almost any measure, they've failed miserably and are still far too averse to change to turn the company around (Bob Lutz is their new go-to guy? He helped drive them into the ground! Hey, he looks great but he was paid handsomely for being 2nd in command; he MUST be held more accountable). And how many thousands more need to be laid off before people, rightly, start to get at least a little annoyed with GM and maybe start to regard it not as a jobs mecca but as the societal leech and layoff factory that is truly is. I'm a longtime FJ subscriber; please do not say their coverage has been, or once was, tough on GM. Disagree with me if you will, but please don't defend the FJ's baby-soft GM coverage and its own failure to adapt to economic and online changes.