Last Friday, Chicago Tonight’s Week in Review held a discussion of media types that quickly became a gang-up on the blog guy. The representatives of WBEZ, Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald quickly hauled out what are now hoary, misinformed arguments: Not that many people really read blogs anyway; The quality of writing on blogs isn’t that good; and Blogs aren’t real journalism. Watch for yourself:
A quick disclaimer: I’m friends with the “blog guy”, Marcus Gilmer from Chicagoist.com, and I was a one-time writer for said blog.
Anyone who has spent a lot of time thinking about the disassembling of the media business will quickly recognize the problem with this panel: Gilmer, Steve Johnson, former media critic for the Tribune, Ted Cox, media critic for the Daily Herald and Wally Podrazik, media critic for WBEZ. Lots of people that talk about the “quality of journalism” but nobody that works on the business of media. It would be like asking a bunch of restaurant reviewers to talk about the financial future of the Olive Garden. They’ll all rail about the quality of the endless breadsticks, but none of them can tell you why it brings the customers in.
We’ve seen this movie before. The folks who have been carrying the cross of “real journalism” for their 25-30 year career are alarmed at the lack of “quality”. For example Steve Johnson on a breaking story: “I would rather wait until the next morning until the person with skill and perspective has been able to report the story.” Really? I’d like to know as many details as I can get, as soon as I can get it. That’s the basic meaning of “news”.
But the papers weren’t selling the news. They were selling ads and charging a lot of money for them because of one thing only:
– Bill Wyman, Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing