Why we’ll lose the Dayton Daily News, and what we’ll really be missing

Everyone who reads the Dayton Daily News, either in print or online, knows they’ve been making changes faster than a casino changes dealers when a table gets hot. No matter what they seem to do, the general consensus is it’s getting worse. Typically, things get worse before they get better- but, the problem with the local news is that they have been dragging us down with them.

The industry is hosed. Has been for a while. What we’re watching is the last hurrah of the buggy whip makers only they are now called the mass media.

I just read the most important article on the subject- well written, researched and reasoned. I highly suggest everyone clicks through to read the whole thing- especially my readers employed by the Cox sisters.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

via Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable « Clay Shirky.

Citizen journalism is still in it’s nascent stages. Twitter and YouTube may provide the next platform for journalism, it’s too early to tell. Either way, this site, and your participation – is closer to the future of journalism than what lands on your doorstep or on your screen every day.

There are answers for the Dayton Daily News, unfortunately, the powers that be can’t put down the buggy whip and come off their high horses fast enough. It’s really quite sad. Newspapers were the fourth estate in our country- now, they’re not even a cheap time-share, with a lot of visitors from far away (syndicated news). It’s time to start working on building our own information delivery platform- by expecting the people we elect and employ with our tax dollars to report back to us in an open, honest, transparent way- at least until we sort out how to put the fourth estates home back in order.

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29 Responses

  1. Greg Hunter March 19, 2009 / 5:31 am
    This has always been the tough part as I listened to a journalist from the Seattle Post Intelligencer yesterday and his analysis rang “true”. The PI became the first all online newspaper and he called out the strengths and weaknesses of the future of journalism.

    “We’ll partner for some content; we won’t duplicate what the wire is reporting unless we have something unique to offer; we’ll continue to showcase the great content from our 150 or so reader bloggers and we’ll link to content partners and competitors to create the best mix of news on our front page.”

    Link to the interview
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/video_and_audio/7947827.stm

    He indicated that people want read the newspaper on line but the revenue streams were decimated by the advent of Craigslist.

    He stated that there will be 20 journalists and a host of bloggers. He stated that while bloggers were not trained journalists, he found that there analysis of events was “fresher” and had “better insight” than the journalists that “had been there done that”. (Not on audio portion I linked Hmm was the BBC self censoring?) I give him credit for admitting that bloggers can write and provide excellent analysis.

    His only drawback that he saw was the “long investigations” that require some investment and I agree with him on this point to a degree. I would contend that the paper is so in the tank with its ad revenue that even the employees are self censoring the articles that they write. I find the investigations that they do conduct are focused on the weak and politically correct that really it does nothing to capture the readers attention, except when they want to black mail the public.

    So the paper is dead, but the internet is not and it is much more effective in manipulating the public. Just look at the AIG “bonus outcry” which you even jumped on like a dog in heat. That whole outcry, which Obama fanned, is just a cover to prevent the public from really understanding that AIG was the vehicle used to pay off the rest of Walls Street including the Biggest Recipient Goldman Sachs. Follow the real money as these bonuses are a pittance. Get a clue as you are trading one set of deceivers for another.

    Obama is not FDR, he is Hoover. I voted for one of the TWO right guys in the Primary – Ron Paul, but hell I would have taken Dennis Kucinich. Dennis would be roasting there asses right now.

    He said that the hard hitting investigations

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  2. David Esrati March 19, 2009 / 8:51 am

    @greg- did you have a senior moment and forget what you were going to finish with?
    I broke the AIG bonus story in Dayton before the DDN had a mention of it- because, they don’t break things like that. No mention today, from what I can tell of, of the proposed IBM buying Sun deal. How can we be a forward thinking community when we’re kept in the dark?
    How good is your newsgathering/filtering network? That’s what will be the key to being informed in the future. “Information is power”- Gordon Gekko.

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  3. Greg Hunter March 19, 2009 / 9:42 am
    No David, I went back to edit something and left that in, but I expected a take down from you as I delivered the Dog in Heat comment. Yes my “news gathering” is not as fast as yours but my analysis and sources cut to the root of the problem one hell of a lot better. So no comment from you on the meat of the issue just an edit question and your puffery about how you “beat the DDN” BFD that ain’t news. David you have a lot of sources that I do not have, but IMHO the bonus thing just proves there is no hope. Obama is an idiot, but do not worry there was no choice.

    Disinformation hides the powerful – Greg Hunter

    PS – I am one dumb SOB, what in hell does the Sun deal mean to me? IBM buys some assets and Real Estate that Sun has and closes some things down. Sorry the only information company I care (d) about was NCR, but they are headquartered here in name only.

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  4. David Esrati March 19, 2009 / 10:06 am

    sorry for the attack Greg-
    I’m doing the best I can to keep people informed- as you are.
    We’re both working toward the same goal.
    Considering that we’re home of Terradata- the IBM/Sun deal is pretty important to some in Dayton.

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  5. David Lauri March 19, 2009 / 10:32 am
    “Citizen journalism is still in it’s nascent stages”

    its its its its its its its its its

    it’s = it is

    its = possessive of its

    or at least that’s what used to be standard in English, but I guess standard English keeps evolving. You’re hardly the only person who never remembers the old difference between its and it’s.

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  6. Greg Hunter March 19, 2009 / 11:17 am
    David Lauri,

    Thanks for the English lesson, but the language evolves and English grammar nazi’s miss the point, just as accountants hone in one missing 2.00 dollar receipt while the whole company goes out the window. Focus on the forest not the individual tree.

    Lewis and Clark were considered learned men, but have you check out their journals?

    That being said I would love you to be me :) editor, just do not change the intent.

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  7. D. Greene March 19, 2009 / 12:56 pm
    Thought you might be interested in hearing about Patch.com, another nascent example of community journalism hitting the web in a very appealing format. It was started by some former Google employees and only focuses on news in a few New Jersey suburbs so far. It’s limited now, but we’ll probably see more websites like this that will survive by selling ads to local businesses and serving up text ads as well.

    Newspapers pollute (although recycling has mitigated this somewhat) and they have way too much overhead to survive in a world where news is delivered free online every day.

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  8. Larkin March 19, 2009 / 1:59 pm
    The problem with “community journalism” is that it is all observation. Having demoted myself to the rank of “community journalist” (i.e. blogger) (http://athousanddays.wordpress.com/) from what having really been a Community Journalist, I am acutely (and sometimes painfully) aware of the differences.

    Real journalists have relationships within their community — with the police, coroner, d.a.’s office, administrators, city workers– that bring them information, often privileged, that helps build the story. You get a very different response when you call someone and say “I’m calling from such and such paper” than when you call and say “I’m so and so and I have a blog and I’d like you to give me this information…”

    One of the other issues is audience. David, dear, it doesn’t matter if you’re breaking the story if only a hundred people are seeing it. It’s depressing as hell when I look at the list of blogs on wordpress: so many people, so little to say. Almost all “community journalism” is opinion, (mine too) and well, finally, so what? There is also the matter of reputation. When I was following the very sad story about Natasha Richardson yesterday, I took the stories from the New York Times and the L.A. Times more seriously than those from the Post or the Daily News, but information from the Post or the Daily News is a lot more reliable than, say, TMZ. (Though I bet TMZ, given it’s salacious nature, gets a lot more hits than the websites of those venerable old newspapers.

    Real newspapers (whether online or in print) have editors. Though you can’t always tell from the DDN, having an editor means having restraint, which means you don’t have the kind of crap like people referring to others correcting a grammatical mistake (that’s often a typo, anyway) as “Grammar Nazis.” Give me a break, Greg, how do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you indulge your temper all the time? Having an editor should mean that nothing is printed (or posted) without having at least two sets of eyes look at it, without having facts checked, without a copy editor catching what spell check glosses over.

    It’s interesting to me that weeklies (like the Village Voice) seem to be able to hold their own financially, that magazines are flourishing even though they are far more expensive to print than a newspaper. I think this has a lot to do with the calibre of stories that dailies carry, and that you can get that KIND of news faster online. The real problem with a daily newspaper is the deadline and the fact that you can’t really do an in-depth job on covering anything. It was only ever the major dailies that had the luxury of investigative reporting.

    Finally, how are writers supposed to make a living? Books? Magazine pieces? Writing is truly an art, but yet every Tom, Dick and Harry think they can do it. Hell, they can talk, so surely they must be able to write, too? Right? Wrong. Just because you can doodle on a cocktail napkin doesn’t mean you can be a professional artist and just because you can send a relatively cogent email doesn’t mean you can write.

    Yes, newspapers as we know them are in trouble. Job viability for journalists (and typesetters and proofreaders and pressmen) is dreadful. I don’t know what the answer is.

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  9. David Esrati March 19, 2009 / 2:14 pm

    I know good content when I see it- and I’d much rather read a piece by Larkin or Tom Archdeacon, than most. I think there is still a market for good content- and I think you can get paid for it- just that the mechanism isn’t refined or built yet.
    We’ll be in flux for a bit- then it will shake out.
    Unfortunately- most news organizations won’t still be in business.
    http://www.patch.com looks promising- thanks Mr. Greene.
    As to Mr. Lauri- I’m not perfect. It was late. If you want to pay for an editor for me, I’m sure Larkin would be happy to take your money. In the meantime, don’t complain about my typos.

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  10. David Lauri March 19, 2009 / 2:43 pm
    “Thanks for the English lesson”

    Your quiet welcom, Greg. I realize trying to keep people strait about there spelling is a useless battle because their never gonna care about it.

    “As to Mr. Lauri- I’m not perfect.”

    No one’s perfect. And it was mean-spirited of me to point out that mistake. I won’t do it again. I’m just amazed that kids, and adults, these days don’t know the difference.

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  11. Larkin March 19, 2009 / 4:00 pm
    David Lauri, don’t give up. We have standardized English for a reason and it’s important to maintain it wherever we can. People who take part in intellectual conversations are not exempt. :-)

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  12. L Romas March 19, 2009 / 4:19 pm
    @larkin, but in time, citizen journalist, bloggers if you will, will gain access and street cred from the professionals you mentioned. Bloggers, once relgated to be in pajamas in their mother’s basement, now carry press credentials at big events. These same citizen journalists also have vast networks that make them privy to information not always available to the paper press.

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  13. Larkin March 19, 2009 / 4:48 pm
    Davidesrati, I am remiss in forgetting to thank you for the props. Thanks again.

    L Romas, I think that the bloggers you speak of will be very small in number. Steve Huff, the great crime blogger would certainly be one, and though I think he made a mistake in going to work for the Village Voice at True Crime Report, he had to in order to make a living. He used to have a paypal button on his site for donations to keep the thing going, and he hated it.

    Does the public think that since “everyone” can write (a fallacy, for sure, but so are many things) that they shouldn’t have to pay to read? Maybe.

    It is ridiculously easy to get press credentials for big events. Everyone wants free publicity. What is harder to get are the secrets . . . the leaks. And that’s where the news is. Anything else is just a feature story. Of course, the real money is in obituaries.

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  14. Drexel Dave Sparks March 19, 2009 / 7:45 pm
    When something is free, nobody is going to pay for it.

    I won’t even go into what little of a difference getting a write-up in a national music magazine means to downloads.

    It doesn’t.

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  15. Stan Hirtle March 19, 2009 / 11:20 pm
    The Shirky article says Consumer Reports survives because people are willing to pay something for integrity. With advertising, as with Wall Street, you get no integrity. On the internet you don’t know what you are getting. You certainly don’t have rules about fact checking. Hunter talks about “long investigations” that require investment. You also need the institutional memory that long time reporters who understand and have relationships with key figures in the community with can find out. One thing a reasonably centralized media did was give everyone a common experience which is the basis of political community. A Kennedy assassination or Vietnam or Watergate. Today liberals can read liberal blogs and conservatives read conservative blogs and there is really no shared language, so they talk past each other and create incompatible mythologies. How good is that?
    Reading Shirky’s article makes me think of Esrati refusing to allow the debate to happen on the broader Dayton OS blog but making you come here. Like the newspapers trying to figure out how to game the internet in Shirky’s article, he has a business model that is up to something. Will it work better or worse than theirs? Shirky’s point is that no one knows or can really control what will happen. Whatever it is is not necessarily good, which may be what Popes thought of the printing press.
    Anyway there are functions of independent news as an institution that can not necessarily be replaced by a bunch of bloggers, or perhaps more importantly by the people who decide which bloggers get distributed and talked about and which don’t.
    And where will the integrity come from?

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  16. Drexel Dave Sparks March 20, 2009 / 2:54 am
    You ask the last question as if there is such a thing as instutional integrity that exists within’ the corporate U.S. media structure.

    Now that, is funny.

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  17. David Esrati March 20, 2009 / 3:34 am

    @Stan- I don’t allow comments on DaytonOS- because it’s not my site (even though I helped start it). Duplicate content is a no-no with Google- but since some people in local government might get in trouble reading esrati.com, I let them republish it.
    I have to manage the conversation- and, hear about it- and learn from it- for that, it has to be in one place. Once you learn how to use an RSS reader- you wouldn’t ever have a reason to go to DaytonOS in the first place- or even this site- unless you wanted to comment.
    I manage my content. That’s the way it works. Sorry for the trouble it seems to be causing you. One conversation is easier than 2.
    Hope you understand now.
    Thanks for reading.
    I believe that institutional knowledge is essential in journalism- too bad there isn’t much left in the DDN offices.
    I agree a shared experience was a part of our culture- but, that went bye-bye once we had 500 channels. Narrowcasting gave rise to the neo-con hatemonger radio hosts- and all kinds of other shock and schlock.
    We made it- now we have to live with it.

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  18. Greg Hunter March 20, 2009 / 4:24 am
    Mr. Larkin – I indulged my temper for 30 years while I followed the leader, sorry, the things are too important and time is fleeting. I mimicked those of success and was “successful” as I became the “youngest VP” in JAYCOR history based on this type of “behavioral trait”. I was well rewarded for being an a$$hole. I am of the belief that all these things that we speak of are wars, but men of reason that post on these blogs are not of like mind. I gave up being an a$$hole to make money for a corporation, even though I was good at it. The money, the stuff and the ideals were shattered to live that life.

    However, I escaped the Matrix and I see clearly who the criminals are as well as their enablers and the apologists. I was shrill when I ran for Congress and 8 years have past and more time has elapsed with incorrect decisions, which makes the outcome of the decisions more devastating. Yes my words are shrill, but make no mistake; we have wasted a great deal of time to address the issues that are required to make the on coming train bearable, now it is impossible to stop and I have given fair warning. THE DDN news is reaping what it sowed as it gave up “true journalism” all long time ago.

    Your quiet welcom, Greg. I realize trying to keep people strait about there spelling is a useless battle because their never gonna care about it.

    I know you do not believe it but I am laughing as you are correct in your statement. So many things run through my mind

    Damn am I getting old and just miss these things?
    Why didn’t I use Word, but Word would not have caught that mistake.
    You never get a chance to make a first impression.
    I vow to slow down.

    But please understand I get mad because I view the grammar issue as well as David’s issues as part of the “derailing” tactic used in all sorts of debates to “get off topic”. Much like the AIG bonus thing is missing the real money payments.

    I am just so sensitive that people miss the real point, but I am sure it is my delivery.

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  19. Drexel Dave Sparks March 20, 2009 / 6:13 am
    Hey Greg, ask me some time about how I dropped out of the corporate world and mind, and into a giant pond of freedom and satisfaction.

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  20. Larkin March 20, 2009 / 12:04 pm
    Ah, Greg. It’s not Larkin. Have a great day.

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  21. Jeff March 20, 2009 / 4:01 pm
    If the DDN goes away I am going to miss their online archive. That is a great source to research the history of the recent past, and a corrective to urban legends and recieved opinion.

    Beyond the online archive there is the Dayton Metro Library index and micofilms, and, depending on the topic the clipping files. I wouldn’t be able to do those in-depth blog and Urban Ohio posts on things like I-675 and the Arcade and the downtown housing boom if it wasn’t for this ongoing record of local events.

    I guess this is what is meant by “newspaper of record”. That it is the ongoing record of a community events and news supplementing the various public records maintained by various branches of government. Having this source is invaluable, a sort of community memory.

    I also agree about doing in-depth research and cultivating sources. It is almost a full time job to do the background research in the public records. A blogger like me is usually doing this as a hobby and would not have the time to do in-depth research since one gets off work around the same time government offices close. A full time reporter would be able to spend a day or two at, say, the board of elections researching campaign contributions when a blogger would not.

    Reporters are somewhat credentialed to develop sources by the very fact that this is their job and profession. Bloggers might have inside knowelege, but they don’t really have the credibility a news reporter has. Larkin made a good point about this, about developing sources.

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  22. Greg Hunter April 20, 2009 / 11:06 am
    That looks like a lot of Asphalt!  I like the traffic circle approach myself, but then the signal people would not get any bail out money!

    PS David L  – Didn’t I hear about Amazon disparaging Lesbian and Gay themed books?  Are you boycotting the love of your life?

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  23. David Lauri April 20, 2009 / 11:12 am
    Indeed I am.  And those who think Amazon’s de-ranking of LGBT books was just a “glitch” should read this fun article:
    http://www.afterellen.com/node/48877

    I’d like (but doubt I will get) an apology from Amazon that actually includes the word “sorry” or “apologize,” and I’d like full disclosure of their policy of de-ranking “adult” books.

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  24. Jeff April 21, 2009 / 4:40 pm
    That Amazon story is pretty amazing….

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  25. Greg Hunter April 21, 2009 / 11:34 pm
    Yes it was.  It is so comforting to know that one may manipulate these systems so easily without fear from the DOJ.  That seemed like a clear case of fraud and discrimination to me, but hey what do I know?

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