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    I've been afk for, it appears,..., 2005-05-15 13:00:57 | Main | no kidding..., 2005-05-17 11:18:24

    free from subscription revenue at last:

    I was just reading Matt Welch's latest column in Reason on the local newspapers hoping for some good news, then he said "...some cities are suddenly gaining not just one but two new dailies. Among them are Chicago..." Then I remembered why I stopped reading him. Presumably he's refering to Red Eye and Red Streak, subsidiaries to the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times respectively: both of which are tabloids worthy of heaping mountains of derision unless all you want out of a daily is the latest celebrity gossip and some sports commentary. If and when they run an actual news story its run with only the most plablum, degrading coverage possible, in the style of celebrity gossip, and running far short of an American high school dropout's ability to analyze sports statistics. They're a little like the cable news in print that way. Niether of them - given the same advertisers, parent company, etc. - represents a particularly different editorial voice for the city of Chicago. They do represent a new marketing campaign to get "lazy" (meaning overworked) young people to read any news at all, I suppose. The only thing they're short of for a real renaissance in tabloid news are batboy escapades and a naked woman on page three.

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-05-16 11:50:29 CST | link

      Well, because you stopped reading you must have missed the part where I said: "Until now, this exciting model has produced little of journalistic note in the U.S." ...

      The point is not that they're good, but that they have provided a viable new business model, onto which there is nothing to prevent you from grafting a good news organization.

    posted by MattWelch @ 2005-05-17 13:11:00 | link

      Oi. True nuff. Apologies for at all suggesting that you thought they were noteworthy journalistically beyond merely noting them.

      The standard leftist dogma would otherwise retort with something like: The constraints set by advertisers would limit the possibilities for good news organizations based on revenue from advertisers, such that one would expect new journals of any merit to have "politics that lean in the conservative direction of the three-year-old New York Sun", which isn't noteworthy except as a broadening of a general trend. Which pretty much excludes anybody with an anti-corporate agenda, e.g. me and my ilk.

      But who wants to write that shit over and over again, let alone read it?

    posted by buermann @ 2005-05-17 21:04:31 | link

      I guess one way of looking at it is, can a daily newspaper do interesting work on a budget of $10 million a year. I contend that it can. The Nashville freebie, for example, spent its first 18 months not running a single wire story or syndicated column -- the 30 or so reporters had to go out every day and come back with tons of stories. Regardless of whether any changed the world, that's a lot of original local reporting that wasn't being done before.

      I would have supposed by now that more of these things would have taken an expressly political, and therefore probably right of center, approach, but for the most part they've been apolitical. Anschutz, who is the person to watch in this space for the moment, means to inject politics into them, which I think is shrewd from a business standpoint, regardless of whether that matches up with my own agenda. But there is nothing preventing a Progressive-left micro-daily, which indeed could be pretty darned interesting. I forget what the politics were of the Berkeley Daily Planet; I don't think they're publishing daily any more, if at all....

    posted by MattWelch @ 2005-05-17 21:31:31 | link

      I agree: a rebirth in the number of local papers doing interesting work would be pretty exciting. I did go through the last week of the Boston edition of the Metro, figuring this was a paper by Swedes, maybe even marxists, and very little of it wasn't from the AP wire. Like the new Chicago dailies only the wire reports aren't as abbreviated. That's kind of what I'd expect out of existing business models - lots of wire reports, little local coverage, and mostly room for advertising.

      Is there a suddenly spurt in the number of local papers with local resources, and thankyou for the pointers, like the BDP (daily on Tu and Fr still) or the Nashville freebie (meaning the Nashville City Paper?)? Or are we mostly just seeing more wire service/mass produced content funded by cheap eyeballs that, if I were somehow ingeniously managing to keep up a local paper with my own journalists on $10M a year, I might be offended at being in any way compared to?

    posted by buermann @ 2005-05-18 11:03:24 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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