News Industry In Crisis But News Reporting Better Than Ever

Matt Yglesias has a smart push-back against the lamentations of the decline of journalism.

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Matt Yglesias has a smart push-back against the lamentations of the decline of journalism.

[Pew Research Center’s annual State of the Media Report] makes no mention of the Web’s speed, range, and depth, or indeed any mention at all of audience access to information as an important indicator of the health of journalism. Instead we lead with a lamentation that “in 2012, a continued erosion of news reporting resources converged with growing opportunities for those in politics, government agencies, companies, and others to take their messages directly to the public.” Layoffs of newsroom personnel at newspapers, Pew reports, have “put the industry down 30 percent since its peak in 2000 and below 40,000 full-time professional employees for the first time since 1978.”

This viewpoint is not wrong, exactly, but it is mistaken. It’s a blinkered outlook that confuses the interests of producers with those of consumers, confuses inputs with outputs, and neglects the single most important driver of human welfare—productivity. Just as a tiny number of farmers now produce an agricultural bounty that would have amazed our ancestors, today’s readers have access to far more high-quality coverage than they have time to read.

Just ask yourself: Is there more or less good material for you to read today than there was 13 years ago? The answer is, clearly, more. Indeed, one thing the Pew report correctly emphasizes is that (as we at Slate are well aware) it’s hard to make lots of money selling ads online. But it’s hard primarily for the same reason that the Internet is such a bonanza for readers: There’s lots of competition and lots of stuff to read. A traditional newspaper used to compete with a single cross-town rival. Time would compete with NewsweekTime doesn’t compete with Newsweek anymore: Instead it competes with every single English-language website on the planet. It’s tough, but it merely underscores the extent of the enormous advances in productivity that are transforming the industry.

The recent improvements in news distribution are astonishing. You don’t need to go to a specialty shop to find out-of-town newspapers or foreign magazines. Just open a browser. You can check on Israeli news sites when a new government is formed or during an American presidential visit and ignore them the rest of the year. The Internet also brings the enormous back catalog of journalism to life. That five-year-old Anderson essay on Cyprus is still relevant today. Recalling that he wrote a book on the island, I looked up an old Christopher Hitchens column on Cyprus yesterday evening.

And of course digital technology also makes it dramatically easier to produce the news. Charts and graphs can be manufactured and published in minutes. Public sector data, academic research, and think tank reports are at your fingertips, instead of gathering dust on random shelves. Email, instant messaging, and mobile phones make it easier to contact sources and collaborate with editors. Last but by no means least, websites don’t “run out of space.” We try not to publish bad articles, but we don’t decline to publish good ones on the grounds that they don’t fit. We don’t arbitrarily cut words to conform to a page-layout concept.

This is exactly right.

Pew is reporting on the state of an industry which is indeed in dire trouble. And, indeed, virtually every major news outlet–whether it’s the New York Times, Newsweek, or the CBS Evening News–is worse than it was a decade, much less a generation, ago. They simply don’t have the resources that they once did and the depth and quality of their reportage has suffered accordingly.

But the overall state of reportage is indeed flourishing. On every topic you can possibly think of, there’s more depth of information than ever before. Moreover, it’s available much, much more rapidly than it used to be. And, perhaps best of all, most of it’s free and almost none of it’s geographically bound.

Not all that long ago, I subscribed to the local newspaper wherever I happened to be living at the moment. Almost invariably, they were dreadful. Simply dreadful. Yet, if you wanted to get a summary of the previous day’s news, you pretty much had to take the local paper.

Now, I live in a place where the local paper is the Washington Post, one of the best newspapers anywhere. And I let my subscription lapse years ago.

I read dozens of newspapers every day. Or, more precisely, I read zero newspapers but rather articles from dozens of newspapers every day. Plus,  steady stream of expert analysis and commentary from people who would have simply had no ready means of conveying their knowledge outside their local circles before the era of blogs and Twitter.

I’m of course an outlier, in that I’m a professional consumer of information. I not only need more of it than 99.9% of the population but I have the luxury of being paid to do it. But the value of this new era redounds to more normal consumers, too.

First, people who live in Bainbridge, Georgia or Troy, Alabama can now easily read whatever newspaper(s) they want. Maybe it’s the local paper. Maybe it’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution or the Birmingham News or the Montgomery Advertiser. Or maybe it’s the New York Times or the Washington Post. Or, hell, the Times of London.

Second, people who live in Washington, DC can follow the Dallas Cowboys just as easily as people who live in Arlington, Texas. The local Dallas sports pages (Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram), the local sports talk radio shows (The Ticket, The Fan), ESPN Dallas, and the Cowboys’ own team website are just as accessible everywhere.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Clever but unintentional satire. Gallows humor. Self-parody.

    Wow.

    There are so many layers of sheer loopiness and detachment in this blog post, and in the underlying article to which it cites, it would take a flow chart to unravel them all.

    I tried thinking of analogies for all of this, but that actually was quite difficult. Gloria Swanson playing Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard” came to mind. Also the end of “Raging Bull,” where the actor playing the washed-up boxer is juxtaposed upon a classic scene in which an actor plays a washed-up boxer. Alas, this sort of cognitive dissonance is in its own category, I think.

  2. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I’m a former journalist, with 15 years experience in the field and half of that with the world’s largest and oldest wire service. Not too long after I stepped away from the field, I accepted an invitation to speak to j-school students. What you’ve written, James, sounds much like what I told them: “This is a great time for journalism, but right now it sucks to be a journalist.”

  3. josh says:

    Respectfully, completely wrong. Yglesias (and you) utterly fail to address the massive reduction in production. Yes, the interwebs let us all free-ride off of what reporting still is being done, but your local newspaper’s suckiness is solely the product of the fact that it (as all other print media) has been forced to adopt former Chicago Sun-Times Publisher and convicted felon David Radler’s ideal newsroom — two reporters, with one of them selling advertising.

    No one covers the FDA anymore. There’s no one dedicated to Agriculture. The NYT just phased out its environmental coverage. Less news is being produced, even though we may all have access to the conglomeration of more news. Perhaps Chicago doesn’t need its own Supreme Court reporter, and getting the news from an aggregater on that topic is fine. But there are less reporters covering less stuff overall. Our ability to free-ride on what’s less doesn’t mean journalism is in good shape.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Sadly, James, I think you’re mistaken. In this sentence:

    On every topic you can possibly think of, there’s more depth of information than ever before.

    you’re confusing data with information. In my view never in human history has the signal-to-noise ratio been worse. Be cautious about citing MY in this area: he’s an interested party. His advancement and success in his chosen field depend on journalism being neither a profession nor a craft but merely an activity that any reasonably intelligent person can engage in with equal authority.

    I think that’s true of most opinion writing. But not with reporting. Reporting is a craft that, like most crafts, is learned but not taught. Now that it’s being treated as dispensable by newspapers it’s a craft like lacemaking that’s dying. It may be that a few hobbyists and amateurs will pick up the tattered banner but I don’t think it’s likely.

    What we’ll have is what’s emerging now: a world in which, contra Pat Moynihan, everybody is entitled to his or her own facts.

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    Access for information is better than ever, but not reporting per se.

  6. MBunge says:

    MattY’s post is practically self-refuting. It consists of very few facts and no objective analysis of those facts. Instead, he makes some anecdotal observations and then blathers away about them.

    He’s a guy with a philosophy degree who’s writing about economics, despite having no real academic background in the subject and little to no experience as either an employer or employee in the real world. That’s the future of journalism?

    Mike

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    What we’ll have is what’s emerging now: a world in which, contra Pat Moynihan, everybody is entitled to his or her own facts.

    This, exactly.

    “But the overall state of reportage PROPAGANDA is indeed flourishing. On every topic you can possibly think of, there’s more depth of MISinformation than ever before. Moreover, it’s available much, much more rapidly than it used to be, AND CAN COME WITHOUT ANY VETTING WHATSOEVER. And, perhaps best of all, most of it’s free and almost none of it’s geographically bound, AND SOME OF IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS IN REALITY .”

    FTFY…. Happy to be of service… You will get my bill in the mail.

  8. ernieyeball says:

    @josh: No one covers the FDA anymore.

    I typed “news for fda” in the google search window.
    Results: (These are post titles, not links. Too many links get snagged in the filter)
    -Allergy alert issued for soybean paste, FDA says- LA Times (2 hours ago)
    -FDA warns of another compounding pharmacy recall- Huffington Post (3 hours ago)
    -Doctors urge FDA to limit caffeine content in energy drinks-Fox News (6 hours ago)
    -FDA Warns of Eye Infections From Unapproved Avastin-Wall Street Journal (14 minutes ago)
    -FDA enforcement against Hospira likely: analyst-Crain’s Chicago Business (Mar 19, 2013)

    These are a few of the posts included in the 35 pages of hits for “news for fda” limited to the past week.

    Your claim is incorrect.

  9. Pharoah Narim says:

    Sure, there is plenty of reporting–but of what. Everyone knows most people around the world are getting the short end of the stick because of cronyism, collusion, and outright cheating. Yet there is no one exposing corporate and government poo poo to fresh air. THAT is the kind of reporting people want. I don’t want run of the mill info about the FDA banning this or that. I want to know where FDA and big Pharma is colluding to keep negative information about medicine trials suppressed. Regardless of who you believe is the culprit–everyone knows something is rotten in Denmark. This is the reporting people want but is absent in this age of ubiquitous MISinformation.

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @Pharoah Narim: I want to know where FDA and big Pharma is colluding to keep negative information about medicine trials suppressed.

    Please help us all and cite your source for this allegation.

  11. Moosebreath says:

    @ernieyeball:

    Regurgitating FDA press releases is not “reporting” in any meaningful sense of the term.

  12. john personna says:

    @josh:

    There are petabytes of production. You just apply a filter, to call some of it journalism. You cite things “missing” but I know there are twitter tags for all of them.

    Try @marionnestle

  13. john personna says:

    @Moosebreath:

    You say “in any meaningful sense” but does the filter really have that kind of sense?

    Reporting, as contrasted to editorial, was about distribution of fact. Distribution of fact is happening at an unprecedented pace.

  14. john personna says:

    Related to the above, I read an interesting essay this week. It compared the loss of common media (“everyone” watches “60 minutes”) to the rise of the viral media.

    Look at the OTB front page today. It is a small independent news/commentary outlet, but it is also very much a part of a viral system.

    The new community is built around fleeting memes, and that might actually be more good than bad.

  15. MBunge says:

    @john personna: “Reporting, as contrasted to editorial, was about distribution of fact.”

    So, you disagree with the criticism of the White House Press Corp as nothing but a bunch of stenographers?

    Saying reporting is about distribution of fact is like saying academics is about distribution of fact. It’s a necessary part of the endeavor but far from the complete or even primary purpose of the activity.

    Mike

  16. Tyrell says:

    The days of professional standards and conduct with objective reporting are long gone. What we have now is totally sensationalized propaganda done by people who would not even be allowed in the parking lot of CBS long ago. The days of the news networks are coming to an end. This was pioneered by Ted Turner, but he won’t have anything to do with it anymore. Internet and reality shows are partly to blame. The biggest reason is that the news channels have become just entertainment, with their people hollering and acting like used car salesmen. Give me Conkrite, Brinkley, Kuralt, and Severeid.

  17. john personna says:

    @MBunge:

    I don’t think (a) white house reporters are typical, or (b) that being on the guest list is what makes them good reporters.

    A bad example that proves little.

  18. john personna says:

    If you want, consider something that you think was “under-reported” and then look back to see how often it was really discussed.

  19. john personna says:

    For what it’s worth, the one off the top of my head was ‘california “state park” closures’

    Google offers me 1,880 news stories.

    That is probably more than I’d see “back in the good old days.”

  20. josh says:

    @ernieyeball: @ernieyeball:

    The LA Times story? A re-print of an FDA alert. My guess issued by press release. Actually, you can see the almost identical press release here: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm344657.htm (the title? “Recall — Firm Press Release”)

    The Huff Post did only slightly better in regurgitating the FDA press release, which can be found here: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm344664.htm?sourcegovdelivery. It appears an intern at a DC desk probably “placed [a call] to Clinical Specialties’ lead pharmacist, Austin Gore, was not immediately returned Wednesday.” The rest is re-reporting prior news. (The WSJ story you cite is the same, although no independent *reporting*)

    The Fox News story? “A group of health experts urged the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday to take action and protect teens from the possible risks of drinking large amounts of caffeine from energy drinks, The New York Times reported.”

    The Crain’s piece? A story about an analyst’s report. The fact that “FDA” appears … well …

    This is not “covering the FDA. What I mean, in case it wasn’t clear the first time, is that there used to be 100 major metro newspapers in the country with 50 reporters each on staff. That meant individual reporters covering things such as the FDA as a beat, not from their Metro desks, but onsite and elsewhere. The FDA was simply an example, but there are simply less reporters covering less things. Less feet on the ground means less stories covered. The fact that we have more access to that lesser amount isn’t all Yglesias cracks up to be.

    One need not be the conspiracy theorist that Pharoah is above to believe that reporters should be dedicated “covering” the FDA beyond acting as a stenographer for its press releases.

  21. josh says:

    @john personna: John, there aren’t., a twitter tag being the perfect example of my point. Those each represent an aggregater of other people’s production. Those twitter accounts do not, however, represent an additional boot on the ground.

  22. Moosebreath says:

    @john personna:

    “I don’t think (a) white house reporters are typical”

    And yet your argument as applied to ernieeyeball’s list of articles on the FDA is that pure stenography is acceptable for the reporters on the FDA beat, as well.

  23. john personna says:

    I’m sorry, I feel firmly on solid ground here. I think Matt and James have come around to understanding what a world driven by infovores, rather than reporters, looks like.

    I won’t accept that I should prove some nebulous negative to support that.

    Some vague information you can’t name is not on the daily internet feeds of various types?

    Name it. Find that under-reported story that was posted nowhere.

    But I can tell you, that’s not what happens in our modern world. It is out there. It is somewhere. The new dynamic is about whether it makes the cut to “viral” and is boosted to wide attention.

    Attention is a key word in our new world.

  24. josh says:

    @john personna: Again, “Distribution of fact is happening at an unprecedented pace” only insofar as less facts are being distributed at that pace. There are no bloggers going to the suburban school district meetings (send me one blogger who write about it, and I’ll find 10 in the same area who don’t have that). As a matter of simple math, if media closes its bureaus in various locations, not all reporting is going to be picked up by the new media. Maybe I should be satisfied with a bloggers *reporting* of any manner of news coming out of Moscow, but I’d prefer the NYT, WSJ, ABC (Koppel!) any day. Plus, I’d dispute that, even with that new media, the same breadth of reporting is being done.

  25. john personna says:

    And sh*t howdy, twitter is full of more FDA news in one day that the average daily newspaper would give you in a week.

    Example.

    Included in that is the agency’s own spin, commentary by the Union of Concerned Scientists, etc.

  26. john personna says:

    @josh:

    The “no X go to school board meetings” is a dated paradigm. Of course parents, PTA members, tweet it.

    You are just filtering again.

  27. john personna says:

    (I see that my local school district tweets, and from there I can skip to many following activists.)

  28. josh says:

    @john personna: I think you’re actually asking us to prove the negative — namely, that, because (pick your beat) no longer has actual reporters dedicated to it, X story got missed. Sorry, can’t prove that negative. All I can do is prove that beats, such as the FDA, used to have beat reporters, but no longer do. Your feelings notwithstanding, infovores may be consuming more information in the aggregate, but there’s less information being produced.

  29. josh says:

    @john personna: You do realize these are aggregations of others’ reporting, right?

  30. john personna says:

    @josh:

    No, you said no reporting on the FDA and local schools and I found reporting on those. Thousands of articles.

    The “prove a negative” is that all those thousands of news stories I’ve found are not enough.

    Or that in some mythical past there would be more.

  31. john personna says:

    @josh:

    I shouldn’t ding you for that one, because it was off the cuff.

    But back in the “good old days” many papers, especially small and regional papers, just ran wire service accounts. Even today many run analogous corporate supplied stories. If you see a “milk is healthy” article in your local paper, chances are the Milk Board(*) had a hand in it.

    Distributions of others.

    * – I should have said “Toast Board” for fans of obscure British comedy fiction.

  32. josh says:

    @john personna: I don’t want the PTA or some parents’ tweets. I don’t want an *activist’s* take on the events. I don’t Judge Judy to tweet her ruling, or the victim’s mother to tell me what happened. I don’t want the FDA to tell me what it is recalling or Whole Foods telling me how great it is that it is that they’re not carrying certain fish.

    I want reporters with no skin in the game to tell me that the ski is blue. Not someone with a clear interest in the issue to give me his or her take on it.

    I don’t want only interested parties to dictate what is news.

    There’s a saying in journalism: If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out. A tweet linking to a press release or someone else’s reporting, supplemented with opinion is not checking it out.

  33. john personna says:

    @josh:

    You want something that was actually very rare. It was rare that a smart, dogged, reporter was put on an important story and left to run. It is certainly fantasy to think that was ever the norm. I mean I mention above the days when 60 Minutes was the weekly community news. What was [their] gig? It was to pluck form obscurity one of the thousands of stories below public attention and in need of redress.

    Do you really think they got them all?

    Or that they or anyone else covered every darn school board meeting in the country?

    What you have now is actually better.

    You are not (or certainly should not) be choosing “a” perspective from those twitter feeds.

    You should be scanning sources and then picking trusted arbiters.

    Why do I trust Felix Salmon, as a person, more than I trusted the Wall Street Journal?

    That answer, in microcosm, captures the whole thing.

  34. john personna says:

    Again, I think Matt and James have a handle on the new media, and for that reason are comfortable with the transition.

    Of course people who don’t understand it, or reject it before mastering it, are going to lag.

  35. josh says:

    @john personna: No, the “prove the negative” is that the FDA bureaucrat may have taken a bribe from the pharm company for approval of its new penile disfunction med. Please point me to a single tweet in that list of the person doing the legwork for that story. That it’s so hard to comprehend that simply having less boots on the ground (as opposed to aggregators and commentators) as a matter of pure logic means some of those stories are going to be missed is astounding.

    Watergate. Whitewater. Bribes. Money. Scandal. These stories get missed. This says it well: http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4904

  36. john personna says:

    @josh:

    That is the crux of our argument. We have many more news sources, individuals putting out bits of the news.

    You make your argument, as Matt and James note up top, by simply filtering those, down to “real” news reporters.

    Seriously, a policeman pepper sprays protesters, bystander takes video, video goes viral.

    BY YOUR CRITERIA NO REPORTING HAPPENED.

  37. josh says:

    @john personna: No, it doesn’t. But for other people reporting news, Felix Salmon would have nothing to write about.

    Back in the day, I don’t think they got them all, but as a former reporter, I know a lot more were. It’s simply a question of math. An “arbiter” doesn’t report. We’re not better off by having as our only option the task of trying to judge the credibility of an aggregator or commentator. There are many, many times in life when it gets cloudy and rains. We’re far far far worse off having to read 10 disputing spins about whether it is raining, rather than having one account at least from someone who actually stuck her damn head out the window.

    It’s not a question about *understanding* new media. It’s a simple question of math. Less people sticking their damn heads out of the window necessarily means less information about the weather.

  38. john personna says:

    There is a phrase from the software world. It is “many eyes make all bugs shallow.”

    Many eyes mean you need less digging for the news. No one needed to dig for the pepper spray story. It happened.

  39. josh says:

    @john personna: Not exactly. I’d say viral video of an incident probably is a good development of new media. But that doesn’t mean in X city that the closing of the one paper’s police bureau isn’t going to have a drastic effect on getting a straight story about what happened.

    And, what about where the bystander took no video. Now, no video and no one covering the police beat. There’s nothing to filter if no one was there. Or, I suppose we can just take the police press report and see if it’s a good arbiter.

  40. john personna says:

    @josh:

    Felix’s reporting, and similar, falls in two categories. Sometimes it is in direct response to an economic report, from government, from industry organization, or from a single company. And sometimes it is in response to other commentary from other people working the same feeds.

    So no, mining-digging reporters, in the sense of people digging through off-line information, pressing freedom of information and etc, are not required.

  41. john personna says:

    @josh:

    What do you think “covering the news beat” was, as was typical?

    Buying beers for cops and trading what can be said?

    Or do you have some fantasy that embedded reporters could be permanent foes to the department and still maintain access?

  42. josh says:

    @john personna: What about the other pepper spray story where there was no video that went viral. Didn’t happen?

    And the bribe paid to the FDA. No viral video so never happened? Sure would be nice if we had someone dedicated to overseeing government actors to find out …

  43. john personna says:

    To put it in the form of the previous paradigm:

    “new media does not compare to the mythical past, film at 11.”

  44. josh says:

    @john personna: Felix does not report. I think I’m finally seeing where you are confused. Felix Salmon and the multitude of aggregators and commentators you’ve linked to don’t report. They comment on news other people have reported. They have less to aggregate and comment on because there are less people doing that work today.

    Mining, digging, FOIA may not be required if you don’t want information. If you do, FOIA helps. For example, here in Chicago, we wouldn’t know that authorities were investigating a college police force for covering up an alleged sexual assault by one of its cops had the Chicago Tribune not obtained the warrant through a FOIA request.

  45. john personna says:

    @josh:

    Felix and his ilk do reporting and commentary. Look at his most recent:

    Synthetics rise from the dead

    He starts with another report, but where does he go for answering data? To the Sifma database, with Sifma being an industry organization offering publicly available data.

    Back in the day the primary function of newspapers was to print publicly available data on paper and ship it to homes.

    Now that happens over the internet, much faster, in many more forms, with many more analyses.

  46. Pharoah Narim says:

    @ernieyeball: How can I site a source for reporting that doesn’t happen? Empirically however, when a product is taken off the market (like ephedra or something like that)–data usually comes out that says FDA ignored unfavorable data or took a company’s word for positive testing…declining to look under the rug. If you’re a small drug developer however, you get the 3rd degree. Throw in the revolving door between gov’t and industry and it just doesn’t look good. Regardless of whether something is there or not–there’s an appearance of favoritism and cronyism built up around FDA and other institutions that needs to either be dispelled or exposed and fixed to give people faith in these in institutions again. The appearance of favoritism in many cases is as damaging as actual impropriety.

  47. josh says:

    @john personna: What I know was typical from having done it was, I would keep a police scanner with me at all hours. I would check in at the police station multiple times a day, but then go to locations where police were responding when the code announced on the scanner warranted. I also schmoozed cops to try to get leads. If I came upon information that might make my sources look bad or unhappy, I didn’t bury the lead, I handed it off to another of the many reporters in my newsroom to pursue it. Thus, I maintained access, but the story was reported. Of course, that model doesn’t work when there’s only one reporter.

    There is no mythical past. There’s actual true facts about actual numbers of boots on the ground. Your failure to contemplate simple math i actually the best evidence of where we’ve sunk to. When news is debase solely to aggregators, commentators and “arbiters,” we don’t have to have truth. We don’t have to have fact. Life can be whatever it is we want it to be. Certainly we don’t have to have facts we don’t like pushed upon us. We can pick and choose.

    Nice place, this Mayberry.

  48. john personna says:

    Consider also the rise of Calculated Risk. It was a big day the first time they got not a story stolen and placed in the daily newspapers, but when they got a credit.

    Bill McBride does just what good economics reporters always did. He tracks public information. He makes charts. He does public education.

    He is not, under your definition above, a journalist, and so doesn’t count. (Unless you are suddenly going to give him an honorary position within the group.)

    Calculated Risk is referenced in

  49. ernieyeball says:

    @Pharoah Narim: …data usually comes out that says FDA ignored unfavorable data or took a company’s word for positive testing…

    Please cite the source of this data.

  50. john personna says:

    @josh:

    The cheat is that this level of reporting was universal, or typical.

    We both know that only major cities and rich dailies paid for that level of police reporting.

    If anyone on a small paper did it, it was on their own time, and essentially they were bloggers on paper.

  51. josh says:

    @john personna: You do realize 75% of what you linked to quoted from or directly reiterated what Mary Childs from Bloomberg reported, right?

    I’m not even saying Salmon doesn’t add anything. That’s there’s no value to commentary (or nominal actual additional reporting from sitting at the desk). But you do realize he wouldn’t have known synthetic CDOs were making a comeback without having a reporter report and write about it, no?

  52. josh says:

    @john personna: That’s not what I’m saying. I’m not familiar with the Calculated Risk story you mention, but I am familiar with the Buzzfeed Mante Twhatever story. Indeed, that was real news reporting. Unfortunately, we have actual data showing those numbers of internet reporters are a tiny sliver of the number of reporters old media used to employ. I have never said there are no reporters. I have said there are less reporters. Again, you seem to be unable to distinguish between reporter and commentator/aggregator.

  53. josh says:

    @john personna: Clearly, you don’t know. I’m learning as this conversation goes on that you actually have no idea what non-new media was or did. The cops-court beat was (and somewhat still is) the backbone of all newspapers big and small. If it bleeds, it leads. Every newsroom has a scanner. Every paper has a police and court reporter.

    To the extent that newspaper still exists.

    Alright. have the last word. I knew all along I wouldn’t get anywhere with you, but that last comment really showed there was no point trying.Wow. I mean, wow.

  54. john personna says:

    @josh:

    I think you’ve lost your thread. I said Felix referenced Childs, and added public data from Sifma.

    The Childs article has no reference to Sifma.

    So I’m kind of boggled. When you think of a pivotal piece of news is it by paragraph count? If 75% is old, it is bad reporting?

    And why exactly is it strike against the new paradigm that Salmon took the ball from Childs and moved it down the field?

    Really?

  55. john personna says:

    @josh:

    I’ve lived all my life in big cities that had, and still have, crime reporters.

    When you talked about them going away, that was your thesis, I did try to figure out where that might have happened.

    It certainly isn’t here. The newspapers and television stations still compete for those “bleed and lede” stories.

    So .. wtf?

    Where did your argument go?

    You are till pointing to nebulous missing news that we can’t see because it is missing?

    Even as thousands of news stories pour out on rss and twitter?

  56. Pharoah Narim says:
  57. James Joyner says:

    @Pharoah Narim: You’ve just produced five links to an incredibly obscure story, thus demonstrating that at least five people are covering it. What evidence do you have that, in the good old days, this story would have been subject to, say, Mike Wallace bringing the resources of “60 Minutes” to bear instead?

  58. Andre Kenji says:

    Brazil has a much smaller media market than the United States(The “large” and supposedly national papers based on Rio and São Paulo have circulation comparable to regional US papers, like the Kansas City Star and the Minneapolis Star Tribune). When you go to the interior there is barely an independent paper, and generally the press standards are low.

    I can say that corrupt Brazilian politicians have a much easier time than US politicians. In part because they don´t have to face the scrutiny from local reporters. I also can say that if there is something that I envy in the US are these local papers. Twitter can´t investigate corruption charges, unfortunately.

  59. Pharoah Narim says:

    @James Joyner: Absolutely none. If I were to make an argument it would be that people had more faith and confidence in their government when there were few enough outlets to keep the propaganda in one scoop. Now that there are endless outlets, each with a point of view to sell to a target demographic, the polarization has crippled any meaningful consensus a democracy thrives upon. And all the while, Fascism has climbed to an ever higher perch upon the backs of the American people. I used FDA as an example but if the news media wanted to really serve this country, they’d start exposing the footsie between the Fed, Banks, and Govt. Why wasn’t there the same drumbeat to jail these people as it was to gin up support for the war in Iraq? I mean, the greatest evaporation of Nat’l wealth in 80 years and no one is held accountable? There was no golden age but can the public at least get an iron or bronze age?

  60. ernieyeball says:

    As a point of information, two of the links cited by Pharoah Narim, National Health Federation and Joseph Mercola, are listed as Nonrecommended Sources of Health Advice by Quackwatch.
    http://www.quackwatch.org

  61. Pharoah Narim says:

    @ernieyeball: So because someone else labels something as “quackery” means we discontinue objective analysis of the actual information presented and decide if valid points worth investigation have been made? Way to outsource your critical thinking and analysis skills. Mercola also has articles affirming that vegetables lower your risk of cancer and that climate change is contributed to by human behavior–is that quakery too? I’ve got no time for labels. If the facts are coherent and can be verified by other sources (I gave 5 refering to similar events)–even if the point being drived at is circumstantial—it deserves being given a deeper look. Our Democratic institutions thive in an environment of faith and integrity that must be protected and maintained.

  62. Pharoah Narim says:

    And BTW–the articles I linked to were not “Health Advice”…..

  63. ernieyeball says:

    @Pharoah Narim: There is enough circumstantial evidence to warrant real reporters digging into this.

    Apparently your listed sources are not real reporters.

    @Pharoah Narim: So because someone else labels something as “quackery” means we discontinue objective analysis of the actual information presented and decide if valid points worth investigation have been made?

    I didn’t say this. You did.

  64. Pharoah Narim says:

    @ernieyeball: I think that’s one of the points of this article. There are less reporters across the industry that there have been for 30+ years. Does that mean what’s reported is somehow invalid or of inferior quality? James Joyner is saying it isn’t–its better quality. Im saying that may be true but the reporting isn’t of much value because serious reporting that exposes the myth of the “free market” is limited to fringle elements and never makes it into more mainstream media circles. When was the last big national scandal? Is that because everyone is on the up and up? Of course not–our collective intuition is telling us there’s a banana up the tailpipe in our political and economic processes. I assume you posted information about quackwatch to imply that identification on that list somehow invalidated the information in the links I posted. Quack is a loaded word–so I addressed what I felt you implied. If your intent was lost in translation then disregard. If you want to go on thinking everyone is playing by the rules despite information that strongly suggests otherwise–carry on.

  65. john personna says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Good thing Vietnam never could have happened, with the old media covering it?

  66. john personna says:

    @Pharoah Narim:

    Wasn’t the single biggest event in the 2012 Presidential campaign a viral video?

    Shot by a bartender, with a pocket phone.

  67. ernieyeball says:

    @Pharoah Narim: …our collective intuition…

    Who are you speaking for?

    @Pharoah Narim:Quack is a loaded word–so I addressed what I felt you implied.

    “…felt I implied.” Doesn’t anyone think anymore?

    @Pharoah Narim: If you want to go on thinking everyone is playing by the rules despite information that strongly suggests otherwise–carry on.

    Now you are jumping to conclusions about me. Is this how you get all your excercise?

  68. Davebo says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Satire reference? Check
    Loopy reference? Check
    Passing Turing Test? Epic fail.

    In other words, a typical Tsar comment.

  69. john personna says:

    It amuses me now that this is the sequence:

    Bartender who shoots video – not a reporter

    First reporter to comment on video – a real reporter(!) listen to him

    First blogger to comment on the reporter’s comment – not a journalist(!) ignore him

    (It all centers on the name of the role, and that the name validates the role. We are asked to filter by the name of the role for that reason.)

  70. Andre Kenji says:

    @john personna: The bartender needed real reporters so people could see the video. That´s a point that I note about Brazil – it´s easy to spot people that knows about corruption and graft on the government, but there is no reporter to go after these cases.

  71. Pharoah Narim says:

    @john personna: I find many professional journalist have this attitude about non-journalists that wade into their territory. I suppose the samurai also had eyes of contempt for the peasant rifleman–we see how that came out. Technology rendered the years of training, practice, and disciple obsolete. I suspect a similar dynamic is playing out in journalism today. Going forward we can probably expect less “news” to originate with journalist not more.

  72. john personna says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Needed? Are you sure, and why? Why wouldn’t a video just rise in YouTube or Reddit rank until reporters and bloggers picked it up? At that point the reporter is part of the secondary distribution system, just as bloggers are accused of being. We’ve moved, at that point, from the initial claim that you need dogged reporters out there burning shoe leather to find a story.

    @Pharoah Narim:

    I think so.