Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sweet Notes

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

*Pete Weitzel, founder of the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, an MTF grantee, will be honored by the National Press Club on July 16 with the John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award. Weitzel, the former editor of The Miami Herald who also launched the National Freedom of Information Coalition, will receive the Aubuchon award along with the late Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. A complete list of the 2007 National Press Club Award winners can be found here.

*Speaking of Freedom of Information, July 4 marked the 41st anniversary of congressional passage of the Freedom of Information Act. Check out the nifty Neiman Watchdog profile about the stubborn California congressman who waged a 12-year battle in support of a law giving the American people a right to know the facts regarding the activities of their government. All journalists owe a debt of gratitude to John E. Moss.

*While many of the nation's news organizations continue to reduce staff, tighten budgets and squeeze editorial resources, it's refreshing to watch a privately-held news and information company invest in its product. Bloomberg News is on track to expand its 2,300-strong news operation by more than 10 percent this year. A recent Financial Times report says Bloomberg has already hired 180 new reporters this year and plans to add another 60 more journalists by the end of 2007.

*Slate media guru Jack Shafer weighed in with a thoughtful piece on the connection between quality and newsroom head counts. While careful not to discount the economic turmoil that has slashed editorial payrolls at most mainstream news organizations, Shafer looks at the 1972 staff sizes at the Washington Post and The New York Times. He said both of these newspaper heavyweights were able to publish quality products 35 years ago with far fewer journalists than they currently employ in 2007. He notes that many of the staff upgrades made in the last three decades helped improve coverage in business, international and specialized feature sections, as well as investigative reporting. Of course, the future quality challenge for all news organizations is how scarce resources are managed and deployed. Despite the fundamental changes in the definition of news and how best to present it, the truest measure of quality should always be tied to providing information that allows citizens to make better-informed decisions.

*The spate of collaborations, partnerships and acquisitions involving new and mainstream media organizations was bound to produce some rough sailing. Forbes.com reports that the media revolution is now being co-opted by alliances once deemed unholy. Bloggers who become part of a big media company sometimes face alienating new wave purists. Some also have found the harsher journalistic standards of mainstreamers a daunting challenge. Others appreciate the rigor. "I'm coming in with a lot to learn," said Brian Stelter, a 21-year-old whiz kid who recently joined The New York Times. "What I was doing at TVNewser was journalistic, but it wasn't always journalism."

1 Responses to “Sweet Notes”

Jonathan Salem Baskin said...
8:31 PM, July 10, 2007

I have explored some of the business exigencies that cable news faces, focusing on the 'Super Tuesday' idea currently in practice at MSNBC. I wonder whether this clearly marketing-driven tool might provide the opportunity for more substantive, thoughful coverage of issues. Anyway, I post at Dim Bulb, http://dimbulb.typepad.com, and I'd love to know your thoughts. Thanks.

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