"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

May 08, 2009

"Bloggers" Don't Cover Local News

Below, and reprinted verbatim in partial form, is a post from Ryan Tate at Gawker today: Read the full piece here.

The creator of the brilliant television series The Wire today asked Congress to legalize monopolistic collusion by newspapers. Only they can really cover City Hall, he said. Apparently he hasn't been there in a while.

The Wire creator, David Simon, was a cops reporter at the Baltimore Sun for 12 years, ending in 1995. He then made a lucrative second career in fiction and Hollywood before detouring into a sideline as a cranky, reactionary media pundit this past year.

Simon told the Senate Commerce Committee today bloggers don't go to city council meetings, or know what the hell is going on if they do — a clich├ęd, out of touch refrain common among newspapermen who can't be bothered to do any reporting on the assertion. The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed from a Newark Star-Ledger columnist to this effect:
Don't expect that Web site to hire somebody to sit through town-council meetings... a lot of bloggers will be found gasping for breath under piles of pure ennui. There is nothing more tedious than a public meeting.
New York Times media columnist David Carr often capitalizes on the idea that bloggers don't do government in his repeated columnsabout how newspapers must restrict their websites:
The capacity to produce accountability reporting... and robust coverage of public officials is not sustainable under current revenue models.
And here's Simon, right before winding up to his punch line about "relaxing certain anti-trust prohibitions:"


I found this argument odd, because as a newspaper reporter who spent a few years covering a town much like Baltimore — Oakland, California — I often found that bloggers were the only other writers in the room at certain city council committee meetings and at certain community events. They tended to be the sort of persistently-involved residents newspapermen often refer to as "gadflies" — deeply, obsessively concerned about issues large and infinitesimal in the communities where they lived.
Read the full piece from Ryan Tate here.

Citizens, gadflys, bloggers, concerned residents, whatever you want to call them. They don't cover the local news. At least not like a local newspaper does. And thank you for that. Thanks Mary Serreze, Mike Kirby, VFR Joel Saxe (Bread & Roses Radio), Daryl Lafluer, Kelsey Flynn, Greg Saulmon, Tommy Devine, Pinac, the crew from the early days of Mass Live, and the rest of you. Really, thanks. Talk about adding value to your community.

Could you imagine if the Daily Hampshire Gazette was the only news source for Northampton? Only recently it was. "Local luminary has cancer." "Hey, look, a truck fell into the pond!" "Another year, another parade..." etc...

I don't remember too much from my young teen years, but I do remember sitting at the kitchen table most days after middle school aghast at reading the Gazette, and saying to my mom, "this paper is so bad. who is this "news" for? Who is signing off on this shit?!" True story, she'll tell you.

I'm very appreciative that it is no longer the only source of "news and info" because those days sucked.

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