Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sorry, no can do

Browsing through PoynterOnline the other day, I came across a transcript from "On the Media" titled "What's the best story you know but can't write about?" I began to ponder this question before I even read the article, and began raising questions of my own. How many stories out there do the public not know because journalists "can't" write about them?

I won't lie, I've felt the pressure even at a little liberal arts college. I was given a few controversial stories in which I could have made some professors and faculty very angry. I covered the stories, but maybe not as well as I should have because I was afraid of the consequences. Who wants to experience flack for what they write?

I can only imagine the pressure real journalists experience everyday. They have big time editors and the government to deal with. They have to worry about being arrested for what they write! Sadly, this problem is one that can, and most likely does, have very dire consequences.
"I think that reporters should be asked routinely, what is the best story you know about that you can't write, and tell me why you're not writing it. I think reporters should be encouraged to talk about the conflict they have in dealing with their sources and the kinds of accommodations they're making," Edward Wasserman states.

As I stated in a previous blog, the press and the media have a direct responsibility to the public. When the press is making "accomodations" in their writing and, in esscence, not letting the public know the truth in any situation, they're not doing their job of being the watchdog for society. Reporters and the media should have free reign, for the most part, to report on the workings of the government. The press can't do their job when they can't report what they want. Something really needs to change!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Front Page Adline

It seems as though these days one can't go anywhere without seeing an advertisement for something. Most companies depend on advertisements in order to function, including the newspaper business. Increasingly, though, these ads have begun to show up on the front page. Bob Steele of Poynter Online described the quest for profit in newspapers as risky business when the ads have hit the front page.
"Journalism has a very special responsibility in our society. The journalism -- both in process and product -- should be protected from out-of-proportion commercial interests. If we are to keep moving toward more advertising content that competes with the premium news space, we must make sure the journalism does not suffer."
I understand that newspapers are receiving more and more pressure to increase profit margins, but the overall function on the newspaper should not suffer. The front page is meant for the most important news, not for the company that's willing to shell out the most money.
"Simply put, a news organization won't have a strong journalism product unless the business side is healthy."
I recognize that profit is an essential part of any business, but the newspapers' focus should be on their responsibility to the public, not necessarily the shareholders. I'm getting sick of seeing the front page advertisements taking the space where the headlines about Darfur should be.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Another merger...

It's not unlikely to hear about companies changing hands these days. The Mom and Pop businesses are quickly becoming an idea of the past, as owners sellout and corporations buyout. USA Today reported that AT&T will soon be launching its rebranding campaign, as Cingular is a new addition to the conglomerate. The companies have changed names and hands so many times, though, that I can't even keep track.
"Today's AT&T was known as SBC Communications until late 2005, when that regional Bell company acquired its former parent, the AT&T Corp. long-distance business. Several years before that deal, the AT&T long-distance company spun off its cellphone business, AT&T Wireless, as an independent concern. Then, in late 2004, AT&T Wireless was acquired by Cingular, which had no real desire or legal right to adopt a brand still owned by the AT&T long-distance business."

I know that big conglomerate corporations can deliver lower prices for the consumer, but I can't help but feel sorry for the "little guys" trying to make it in the business world. In the media world, there doesn't appear to be many "little guys" left. They can't even compete. Whether it be book publishers, newspapers or cell phone companies, the big dudes rule.

It's not a secret what drives all these mergers. I just hate that money seems to determine so much. Can an ethical decision be based upon the attainment of wealth? In a world where, as the Associated Press calls it, "a confusing dance of brand names" is the norm, I hope that the corporate gurus can think of more than their own pocketbooks.