April 10, 2003

Quality Journalism & Porn

After a week-and-a-half in my house in southern Mexico, located at the end of a dirt road far from a phone, TV or newspaper, I got back just in time to catch this definition of quality journalism given by L.A. Times assistant managing editor Simon Li to the American Society of Newspaper Editors' convention in New Orleans: "It's like that Supreme Court Justice's definition of pornography: Most of us know it when we see it."

Li spoke during an ASNE discussion on the relationship between editorial quality and profit, which focused on studies that show investment in the former can directly enhance the latter.

"Thirty-five years of scholarly research confirms what many of you probably believed all along, that investment in quality content improves the bottom line," said University of Missouri professor Esther Thorson.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, told ASNE, "We can prove the proposition that good journalism is good business."

Rosenstiel, aided by the University of Missouri and the Poynter Institute, analyzed years of research that tracked newsroom investment against financial return. He concluded:

"To survive, the news business is well past the point where we can say that quality is simply a moral obligation. Or keep the business people out of the newsroom. The good news is, apparently, there is a generation of research out there -- and current data too -- to suggest that the newsroom has a much, much stronger case to make than that. Now we need to expand the research so you can make that case."

The Poynter Institute has pulled together Rosentiel's work, and those of several other quality journalism researchers, in a package. [ Read it all here ]

Disappointing, from my perspective, is how the ASNE itself treated the discussion, not bothering to put a story about it on the front page of its convention newspaper, which devoted nearly its entire cover to a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney, and playing it on the ASNE website beneath stories about singing conventioneers and New Orleans jazz.

 New Orleans Times-Picayune Quality news pays off, editors told
 Poynter Institute Quality and the Bottom Line
 American Society of Newspaper Editors
 Project for Excellence in Journalism

Posted by Tim Porter at April 10, 2003 09:09 AM

It's also disappointing that no one appeared to take Cheney on regarding his claim that the administration has a good record on government openness.

Posted by: Lex on April 10, 2003 10:14 AM

Welcome back. Hope you had fun and got some rest. ;)

Posted by: kpaul on April 10, 2003 10:58 AM
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