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December 29, 2008

this just in: media determines that media is not at all responsible for media decline.

One of the problems professional newspaper reporter Paul Mulshine has with blogs such as ours is that people who are not professional newspaper reporters are basically drooling morons “who can't even keep track of the number of times the letter "N" appears in a two-syllable word,” an attack we believe is completely unncallned for and frankly beneath a man of his renownn.

Further, Mulshine points out that non-professional newspaper reporters are not willing to do the hard kind of reporting, such as distilling complex documents or visiting far-off sites.  This is an excellent point except for the whole not-being-true part

What then, can account for 20 years of nearly uninterrupted declines in newspaper readership?

Mulshine blames it on the Internet. 

When it comes to social criticism, the Internet plays the same role as our dogs: A convenient scapegoat.  Someone track dirt in the house?  Blame the dog.  DVR has no room left to record “What Not to Wear” because it is filled with late night adult entertainment from that promotional week when Cinemax was free?  Yep, that was the dog too. 

Newspaper circulation in a decades-long tailspin?  Blame it on the fact that “the Internet can carry ads more cheaply.”

The problem runs deeper than that, but it is not that all newspapers are terrible or that all bloggers are better.  It’s that most newspapers are, by definition, average, as are most professional newspaper reporters and is why so many alleged news reports read like warmed-over press releases or why so much commentary is little more than half-informed political proselytizing.  When we covered the TARP debate, we at least actually read the original 130-page document, the first 70 pages of which we were even sober.  Judging by the professional news coverage that put us in a distinct minority (at least on the reading part).

The problem for newspapers is that people simply have more choices.  There are excellent news reporters out there, but there are also excellent bloggers.  Not here, but other places. And if you want to hold and attract readers, you’ll have to do more than talking about how you do “amazingly well,” and start actually doing amazingly well. It's hard work, but if bloggers are willing to do it for a few Google AdSense pennies, professional newspaper reporters shouldn't mind doing it for their day job.

But Mulshine shouldn’t have anything to worry about on a personal basis. Given his casual disregard for facts and obvious contempt for others, he at least has a bright future as a blogger.

Or on MSNBC.

J.

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December 29, 2008 at 05:07 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink

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Comments

The Star-Ledger actually has done a good job over the years of covering local news, and my $0.02 is that people have more and more been valuing the national or global over the local.

But although this was what Mulshine points to as the paper's strength, this sort of local customized news strikes me as exactly what a blog could do better. Maybe "no sane person" would go to a town committee meeting for free just to write it up. But if people are there anyway, all they need to do is write up what they heard anyway. And many more events can be covered this way than what a newspaper deems "fit to print."

But more importantly, when was Cinemax offering a free trial week? How'd I miss that?

Posted by: Amarsir | Dec 30, 2008 1:21:39 AM

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