ASNE to issue opinion pieces attacking myths about newspapers and reportorial journalism
ASNE today announced that it would be issuing a series of opinion pieces written by ASNE editors and legal counsel reinforcing the vitally important role of newspapers and professional journalism in the digital age. The first piece was issued today, and the others will be released in sequential order over the next four weeks. The pieces will be available to run in any newspaper or media outlet as columns, or they can be used by ASNE members and others to stimulate columns of their own, or to give talks in their communities, do media interviews or to get the word out in other ways.
ASNE today announced that it would be issuing a series of opinion pieces reinforcing the vitally important role of newspapers and professional journalism in the digital age. The first piece was issued today, and the others will be released in sequential order over the next four weeks.
The columns are the result of a small conference held in January at the Newseum that was organized by ASNE's First Amendment Committee. The daylong event brought together 25 leaders in the journalism profession to explore the conventional wisdom -- often mistaken -- about modern American journalism. The committee hoped to use the event as a way to begin circulating a more positive message about the enduring value and vitality of newspapers and other sources of reportorial journalism.
"We don't have our heads in the sand; we know better than anyone that newspapers are struggling," said former committee chair and Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan. "But our problems have given rise to a host of hyperboles and outright fairy tales that are doing real damage to our profession."
The pieces will be available to run in any newspaper or media outlet as columns, signed by their respective authors. Or they can be used by ASNE members and others to stimulate columns of their own, or to give talks in their communities, do media interviews or to get the word out in other ways. They offer facts and figures -- and opinions -- to bolster the argument that newspapers remain vital in the digital age.
Busting myths will be available here.
The myths that were addressed:
- Newspapers are washed up. In the column issued today, Sullivan argued that newspapers remain the best source of news and enterprise journalism. She also noted that they still have considerable strengths as businesses; in an age of media fragmentation, newspapers continue to reach a mass market. Newspapers aren't dying, Sullivan said; they are being reinvented as broad-based media companies and Internet destinations.
- Newspapers are no longer relevant. In next week's column, St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times executive editor Neil Brown will marshal numbers that demonstrate the continuing relevance of newspapers: 110 million people who still read the Sunday paper; 335,000 who are employed in the newspaper business; five million new readers who have visited newspaper websites in 2010. But Brown will conclude by noting the continuing power and reach of newspapers is defined more by the important stories they still tell and the parents who buy extra copies when their child's name appears in the paper.
- News media are biased. Sixty percent of Americans believe that news organizations are politically biased, but bias in traditional newsrooms has never been lower, Newseum and Freedom Forum president Ken Paulson will argue in his column. Traditional news organizations strive daily to report news and information about their communities without regard to political affiliation or special interests. According to Paulson, the disconnect between truth and perception is the result of the public's confusion about what constitutes real journalism, as well as politicians who think attacking the media is a better political strategy than explaining their actions or positions.
- Newspapers are not connected to community. A good newspaper is a lamp to its community, shining light in dark places and showing the way, says Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel editor and senior VP Charlotte H. Hall, who will list a number of recent newspaper stories that made the communities they were published in better places to live. Newspapers are also quickly adapting social media tools like live chats and citizen blogs to grow their communities of interest, Hall will note.
- The Web and digital technologies are killing news organizations. Advances in technology may be adversely affecting their bottom lines, but newspapers are quickly adapting and have become the locus of breaking news on the Web, argues ASNE legal counsel Kevin Goldberg of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth in his piece. For the most part, non-newspaper blogs and social media do not generate original content, and engage instead in recirculation of existing content -- most of it produced by newspapers. With the advent of Web publishing, the audience for newspaper content is larger than it has ever been, Goldberg will say.
The American Society of News Editors is a membership organization for leaders of multimedia news organizations and deans and endowed chairs at accredited journalism schools. ASNE focuses on open government and the First Amendment, journalism education, leadership and diversity.