Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh the scandal!

Americans love to read about the scandals corrupting our society, but the investigative reporting involved in uncovering such scandals may become a thing of the past. Howard Kurtz writes about this problem in his column in an article titled "Tightened Belts Could Put Press in a Pinch."

"Real investigative reporting, as opposed to the what-happened-yesterday stuff, is time-consuming, risky and expensive. And as one news organization after another sheds staff in this tough financial climate, it's worth considering what aggressive journalism has produced lately."

As more and more staff cuts are made to increase profit margins, fewer people are available in the newsroom to take on the time consuming task of investigative reporting. These cutbacks may have harsh repercussions for American citizens and their right to know what's going on behind closed doors. The cuts are coming at a time when more and more focus is on profit margins rather than quality journalism. I know money needs to be made, but the press' responsibility to the public should come first.
"Some of these customers are consuming the companies' wares online, which is great for exposure but doesn't produce the revenue needed to support long-form reporting. If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians."
Kurtz gives a laundry list of important stories uncovered by investigative reporters, most recently the Mark Foley scandal, but an accompanying laundry list cites the newspapers that have cut their writing staffs by ten percent and more, including the Dallas Morning News, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kurtz claims the cuts may even spread to broadcast journalism.

I'm afraid that if the staff cuts continue, many of the scandals uncovered may become something that the public may never know about. How many more Mark Foley's or Tom DeLay's are in Congress? The public may never know.


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