February 17, 2004

Polk, Clichés, Dice and More

Today's morning reading:

 New forms of journalism: The George Polk awards were announced today and the Center for Public Integrity got one for its online report, Windfalls of War, on U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and military spending. If you haven't read the center's work, do so. It's doing the type of reporting once only reserved for the largest of papers, and now rarely found in even them.

 Cliché Collection: Tom Mangan, who can't keep busy enough blogging on Prints the Chaff, is seeking time-worn phrases for his new cliché-ridden (is that a cliché?) blog, Banned for Life. Tom is kind enough to include a list created by Ed Beitiks that I sent him.

 Shooting Dice: The editor of one Las Vegas newspaper accuses the owner of the other of using his newspaper to "to slap down business and political competitors and to bolster its own financial interests to the detriment of its readers and the profession of journalism." Good stuff.

 News and Ads as Components: A new survey finds that "69% of the largest 232 newspapers in the U.S. now offer the option of Web-only help-wanted advertising for employers, compared with 45% in January 2003." The business side is learning that the content produced news organizations - like newspapers - is not dependent on platform to be profitable. Now, the news side needs to learn the same thing journalistically.

 Circling the Drain: A Columbia University economist argues that the information sector is collapsing through devaluation. "It seems to have become difficult to charge anything for information products and services. … Much of world and national news is provided for free. A lot of software is distributed or acquired gratis. Academic articles are being distributed online for free. TV and radio have always been free unless taxed. Even cable TV, at 20,000 program hours a week, is available to viewers at a cost of a 1/10 of 1 cent per hour. Newspaper prices barely cover the physical cost of paper and delivery; the content is thrown in for free." He doesn't offer solutions, but I think the answer for journalists lies in producing high quality, ethical work that separates them from the imploding media mass. And, that means returning to and re-emphasizing core journalistic principles.

Posted by Tim Porter at February 17, 2004 09:24 AM

I didn't work on the contractors project (which is ongoing), but I do work at the Center and it was a wonderful surprise to win a Polk Award. We've never gotten that type of recognition before. And your characterization of the Center's work is right on - when I left my previous job, a colleague asked me why I was "leaving the business." I told her that by going to the Center I'd get to do more of the work I always wanted to when I got into journalism. More like the business left me.

Posted by: Derek Willis on February 17, 2004 07:05 PM
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