The End of Hard News?
Today’s news is there is no news on the front page of today’s Washington Post. Not one of the six articles on page A1 begins with a hard news lead that imparts real news to readers.
Welcome to the new age of daily newspapering, where the actual news of the day has migrated to the Internet or TV or radio or the inside pages of the paper. Bye-bye to the old “who-what-when-where-why.”
He’s referring to the Friday edition but, alas, his link goes to the current day’s edition of the paper which, oddly enough, contains several hard news items.
Note to bloggers: Screencaps are your friend.Thankfully, Media Bistro understands this important lesson and provides one, which I’ve expropriated for this post.
Jaffe prints a response from WaPo executive editor Marcus Brauchli which strikes me as pretty compelling:
It’s not news when auditors for the company that once was America’s industrial giant express concern about whether it can survive? Or when the likelihood rises that the government might have to acquire what once was the country’s largest bank? Or that the world’s monetary authorities are scrambling to revive the global economy?The front page was thick with news. News isn’t defined by a subject-verb-object lead sentence. We tell our readers what’s happening, why it’s happening, how it might affect them and what’s likely to happen next. Kimberly Kindy, David Cho and Blaine Harden did something much more difficult than simply reporting what other said or did. Their enterprise work told you what you won’t learn from other sources, but what really matters. Your definition of news would favor news conferences and press releases.
That strikes me as exactly right.
If I were making decisions for the front page of WaPo, I wouldn’t have given above-the-fold space to the Ohio police rescue story, let alone devoted the space to the photo rather than a write-up. It is a visually interesting photo, to be sure, but adds no news value.
The Limbaugh-GOP fight is probably not deserving of the off-lede, but it’s certainly newsworthy. And, given that the industry’s in sad shape financially, I wouldn’t bedgrudge using something sexy like that to sell a few extra copies.
But nothing else on the front seems even remotely questionable.
Bloggers, myself included, like to make fun of the “mainstream media.” And for good reason: They do plenty of shoddy work and are frequently sloppy and ignorant in their reporting. But the great papers, in whose company I’d put the Post, still put out far more quality journalism than crap. Let’s strive to call them out for the latter while not ignoring the former.