Newspaper Editor Understands
I denounce and deride the newspaper industry so much on my blog, I like to make sure people in the newspaper industry get credit when they say stuff that makes sense.
Take for instance, Robert Rivard, the editor of the Express-News in San Antonio, TX. In this article, he writes:
A decade ago, a few readers would have taken the time to pen letters of complaint in response to our recent front-page headline about the election of Pope Benedict XVI: “Rigid theologian selected.” Only a few would have been published as letters to the editor. Two months ago, more than 200 readers e-mailed me to complain, and implicit in their messages was the expectation of a response.
After using this column space to apologize for publishing such a biased headline, I answered each e-mail writer. A few readers who opposed Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s elevation to the papacy challenged my criticism of our headline writer. What would I have written, they demanded.
“German cardinal selected on fourth ballot,” I responded, adding a more contextual secondary headline stating, “Rigid theologian to some, defender of the faith to others.”
My point is that readers and Web site users now feel free to challenge decision makers here, a development many of us in the newsroom welcome, although some editors resent the second-guessing.
Get used to it, I say. Interactivity is the future. People want to be heard.
First, he actually discusses (and admits) his paper’s biased headline writing relating to the selection of the new pope. Yowza. Mark this date down on a calendar. That alone is worth noting.
But then he admits to the central point regarding blogs. Readers want immediacy and choice. Newspapers, by embracing blog delivery of news, will evolve along with the expectations of their readers. Right now, for the most part, newspapers try to not only report the news but control the prevailing opinion of their reader in doing so. That accounts for biased headlines like, “Rigid theologian selected.”
Blogs also attempt to shape public opinion, but they do so transparently and not by claiming to report the news unbiased. That’s the way it should be. The choice readers now have over the internet, in getting their news will force news reporting to be either transparent editorial commentary or unbiased news reporting. Thankfully, the days of claiming to be one but obviously being both, are coming to an end.
I’m a firm believer that we want the telling of news to reinforce our world view. That’s natural. But we don’t want it at the expense of inaccurate news, either. This is the beautiful thing about the internet and blogs. I can read news through blogs and sites that share my positive view on America but I can also read what the other side has to say (and giggle at their lunacy) about the same topic and therefore be more balanced in my opinions. But I’m no longer held captive by news outlets that are quite obviously liberal in their world view. (Which is almost the only access we had to news prior to the rise of talk radio.)
Since the majority of newspaper’s audiences (except in NY and SF and maybe LA) have conservative slanted viewpoints, they are out of touch with their audiences because reporters and editors report from their own world viewpoints. This is a major part of the reason newspaper’s circulations are declining.
Still some left. Check out my limited edition, “American Entrepreneur” tshirt.