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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/10/10

All the News That's Fit to Cut and Paste

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Message Margaret Bassett
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What we call QuickLinks on OpEdNews is so prevalent in most online political sites that it's hard to believe we don't think of it as a source of news "you can't get anywhere else." Where do those QLs come from? As an editor, one of my chief sources comes from other sites' newsletters.

When I might have trouble finding some controversial matter on a world event--taking time and occasionally tranquility--the story might be right there as a member's submissions. It is vital to get news out in timely fashion, so I proceed and also keep a copy in my collection of documents. One such article was what Lloyd Rowsey posted September 2009--nine pages of information: (Lloyd Rowsey's contribution)

The New York Review of Books
Volume 56, Number 14 September 24, 2009
A New Horizon for the News
By Michael Massing

Taking paper out of "newspaper" was a good business move. Massing, once at Columbia Journalism's Review, explains challenges and variations of what is happening in popular news gathering.

First comes the vital need to make enough money to compete. Simply put, it's increased online advertising or subscriptions--both in competition from MSM, with their own blogs and spinoffs. Massing isn't bashful about discussing the future of mainly bricks and mortar concerns as far as their bottom line is concerned.

His question is one which engages the public at large: "How could the financial fortunes of a $50 billionplus industry decline so swiftly while its product remains so prized?"

Here in East Tennessee, before I canceled my hometown paper, I believed I could read everything online. Why bother for the sake of a crossword a day? Something was afoot after the downturn looked like it might be turning up. Then Daily Times canceled online obituaries and Letters to the Editor. I held out, waiting for their sales calls to come in. Finally the subscription department offered a reasonable "weekend" system. Now I might miss something from Tuesday through Thursday. But at least I would have my Sunday crossword. I would still be tormented with a ton of slick ads on Sundays. I give them to my next door neighbors along with news. However I save the page with the Sunday crossword for leisure until evening. Regardless, I must say I don't need what happens in this county as much as what happens in the country.

The article has a good rundown of MSM biggies --NYT, WaPO, WSJ, etc. They are all sorting readers out by the size of their curiosity as well as their pocketbooks. I find the NPR model intriguing. The author has this to say:

NPR is planning an ambitious campaign to boost the reporting capacities of its member stations. "We're trying to raise money on behalf of not just NPR but journalism at local radio stations--to raise the level of reporting both on radio and the Web and to step up the coverage that local papers can't produce," I was told by Vivian Schiller, NPR's chief executive. Eventually, she says, NPR hopes to connect these stations into a national network anchored by its Web site. Accomplishing this, Schiller says, would be expensive--the news operations at many public stations are primitive--"but not," she adds, "as expensive as a start-up--we don't need bricks and mortar."

So this is one model. Old timers each proceed with what seems appropriate according to their readership. It's curious to see the paragraph concerning how the Washington Post has sliced and diced their efforts. Better to read it than to make generalizations about the Post's philosophy.

As always it pays to recognize a journal's main readership and the kinds of companies which would be willing to advertise. Journals, long established, which cater to business interests--Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are two--have readership where a subscription may not be onerous.

Through it all comes the need for first hand observation of well-trained professionals. In the end nothing will take the place of onsite reporting, buttressed by the "nose" of those who are ever itching to ferret out the story behind the obvious story.

We who do not purport to be professional news persons still have a role to play. I have personally been interested in wondering how members like those at OpEdNews can contribute to original information. Sitting at the computer we cannot do a real "Travels with Charley." Perhaps in the long run, those of us who have a general interest can serve best by presenting analysis of stories already presented as hard news. I put Massing's work in the category of hard news. And I do think it great that we are tackling the hard question of how the public can be informed. It's better than wasting time with Beck and Limbaugh.

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Margaret Bassett passed away August 21, 2011. She was a treasured member of the editorial team for four years.

Margaret Bassett--OEN editor--is an 89-year old, currently living in senior housing, with a lifelong interest in political philosophy. Bachelors from State University of Iowa (1944) and Masters from Roosevelt University (1975) help to unravel important requirements for modern communication. Early introduction to computer science (1966) trumps them. It's payback time. She's been "entitled" so long she hopes to find some good coming off the keyboard into the lives of those who come after her.
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