Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Washington Post confirms that Mark Felt is Deep Throat

The Washington Post confirms that Mark Felt is Deep Throat: "Woodward, Bernstein, and Ben Bradlee confirmed the story as well. Woodward is writing an article about the experience to be run on Thursday."

After years of speculation, the hunt for "Deep Throat" is now over. By now, you've heard that the Washington Post, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein have all admitted that W. Mark Felt is indeed the masked avenger. For years, journalist pundits have suspected Felt was indeed the anonymous source that leaked information regarding the Watergate Scandal, but no one stepped up to the plate to say for sure, and the "until-eeath-do-us-part"-like agreement between the source and the reporters became even more discouraging.

I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye when Woodward and Bernstein broke the story. As a journalist, the event is another landmark - a tongue-in-cheek example of the journalist's role. But, by today's standards, anonymous sourcing is a shaky topic. It's romantic in a sense - a single person and an altruistic goal to help the larger good of the public - but it's flawed, especially now in our dog-eat-dog society where everyone is looking to get leg up, by viciously chewing off the leg of the person standing above him/her.

Honestly, I couldn't care less about Deep Throat's identity. I look at him as the John F. Kennedy assassination equalizer. And as far as the rest of society, they probably feel much the same way - it's something to talk about around the water-cooler at work, but it's not something that's going to alter daily schedules or routines. Already, Wikipedia has Felt's name listed as Deep Throat. And for me, that's enough. The informant that brought down a president can now be added to encyclopedias for future student research papers. The information is available, but, like any other name or date listed in any history book, it has little relevance in everyday life.

What "Deep Throat" did and still does represent, though, is hope. In a soceity where corrupt politicians and partisan politics is as token as a time-clock, Deep Throat reminds Americans, journalists anyway, that somewhere, someone knows the truth and is willing to tell it. As journalists, it's our job to find that person and that truth. Deep Throat will always be "Deep Throat." And that will always be larger than a single individual.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Newspapers...to Die or Sacrifice

Death; senseless, meaningless death. Sans sense, Minus meaning. The death of a close friend; a friend as reckless as he was admirable. An accident. A totaled truck. A wedding he would never remember because he was in a coma, no doubt thinking of the girl he was leaving behind.

Death is without purpose, without reason, without sense.
Sacrifice is sacred. It's hopeful, fearless..Full of hope without fear.

Are newspapers dying or are they sacrificing themselves?
It's the difference between being reactive and being proactive.

Newspapers are dying. They die because they are victims. They are victimized by radio, cable television, and the Internet. They follow blindly in the shadows of these and public opinion. Public opinion; giving the public what it wants - settling - instead of telling it what it needs to know. It's a medium catering to an audience rather than creating one.

Newspapers are dying because they misunderstood. "Deepthroat" was not an anonymous source; he was not a personification of intrigue. He was a symbol of protest, a manifestation of an ideal - the American spirit, the hero, as envisioned by Thomas Paine. Watergate was the pinnacle of the last great American Movement.

The country is too partisan, but more than that, it's fragmented. I was ADD before it was cool, but my dream of being a great writer has always been the shiniest object. It's an ideal so ingrained, the dream itself is tradition. Traditional ideals are what newspapers have forgotten.

Newspapers should be the mirror of society - reflecting images of society not the reflection itself. That's objectivity. We the people of this country must see our worst traits alongside our greatest strengths. Those weaknesses are not isolated within our governments, businesses, or prisons.

The people expect these stories of corruption because they dwarf our daily indiscretion. Only not. How many Cancer cells can fit on the tip of a pen? If magnified through a microscope, a single Cancer cell can cover a white wall like wallpaper.

The newspaper is not venturing into uncharted territory. It's death has been prophesized many times before. And each time it's adapted into what society needs it to become. This time, society is too splintered to give a consensus. Newspapers need to make an executive, Utilitarian decision. For a divided public, "greatest good" is larger than the sum of its wants.

If the newspaper is going to go the way of the dinosaur, let it sacrifice itself for the dream from which it first rose, not die of its human frailty. My friend, he died never experiencing the best moment of his life, but he would have sacrificed everything to be awake during his marriage.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Newsworthy?

This article appeared on DailyBreeze.com. It's a well-written story: personable, conversationional, and light. If I lived in the Southern California area, I could definately see myself subscribing to the paper if more stories were written like this one - and that says a lot since all of my news-gathering comes from the Internet.

But, what's newsworthy about someone who sports a Christmas Tree in May as if it were this week's issue of TV Guide? I read and re-read the article looking for some connection to anything relevant and couldn't find a single link.

I want to clarify that I'm not from the Southern California area, nor have I ever visited the region; so, it's quite possible this editorial has some tie to a local issue.

Maybe this piece is a new newspaper tactic to regain lost audiences and re-define the role of the local newspaper. I've stated before that newspapers will never die. They are too vital to each community to ever be replaced by internet news. No doubt, newspapers will, again, have to adapt because they cannot compete with up-to-the-minute news coverage the way the Internet and cable news can.

I forsee a change in format, content, and audience-targetting in the future. National and global news will still have homes on the front page, but they will resemble the abbreviated form that defines USA Today - just enough information for a reader to have something to discuss around the water-cooler at work. Outside of that, newspapers such as the Breeze will find themselves writing for and about the community that buys their papers from boxes outside the gas station they stop at every morning for their cups of coffee.

Page two will probably be the local school board and city council stories - the breaking news of the town. The rest of the paper will have to be feature stories. These are the stories people read after work and before dinner. These are the stories that keep strangers in touch with their neighbors.

Newspapers are a recorded history. But, more than that, they are the all-powerful omniscient beings that record society reflections. Americans and the United States can be generalized as a singular people, but New Yorkers are different than Oregonians. And even within those states, communities, towns, and neighborhoods have their own unique personalities. Thus, the role of the local newspaper is to capture those personalities and keep them forever recorded and documented for future generations.

Is this Daily Breeze editorial such a community reflection or something that should've been posted on the author's blog?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The journalists v blogger heavy-weight title is weighing-in with too much fat.

Media struggling with Blogs: UPI: "

UPI reports that traditional media is grappling with dwindling interest and growing criticism from bloggers.


I'm a journalist.
I'm a blogger.

Or maybe, I'm the reverse - a blogger first, then a journalist. No, I'm a person with an opinion and a care about the world first and everything else is second. As a journalist, I'd like to think I've chosen to be a part of a tradition rather than simply choosing a career. I do have an objective - give people the news so they can make up their own opinions. It doesn't matter if I'm reporting on school board meetings or writing an op-ed piece about academically-challenged high school standards, I'm strive to give the working Joe the information he needs whether it's to have an inteligent conversation around the water-cooler at work or when he steps behind the curtain of a voting booth to vote for the next president of the United States.

Are bloggers journalists...no, I don't think so. Do they sometimes act as journalists...yes. Do they provide a community service...Definately. Bloggers don't have editors and, as of right now, they are not held accountable for the facts or psueodo, slanted facts they post so, really, they have nothing to lose by posting lies. Journalists do. But, where journalists should step back and be objective, bloggers don't. I'm not naive, a lot of the mainstream media is biased, but that's not the way it's supposed to be and it's a result of a larger, public trend/advertising campaign to effectively target audiences that want to be targeted (check the fact, Democrats watched CNN for the Democrat National Convention, Republicans watch FOX). Bloggers are free to post their opinions and these are very valuable to journalists.

If journalists go into every interview armed with only their personal questions for "their" stories, then every story begins to sound the same to the general public. However, if they were to keep up with local blogs, they could discover what the community truly wants to know. This not only applies to specific issues, but to stories overall. If there is an outcry for more reporting on the local school board elections than a tax bond proposal, wouldn't that be an important factor to consider when deciding which story to run on the front page?

That's only one aspect. Most journalists feel as if bloggers are overly critical of printed/broadcast stories; that bloggers read/watch these just to find holes and biases. Well, maybe, but is too much fact-checking a bad thing? Having this extra scrutiny applied to every story is only going to make journalism as a profession stronger. The good reporters will stand-out and be applauded by the bloggers and the public; the bad will be ridiculed. Editors and managers are inteligent people - they can tell when a blogger's comments are justified or just sanctimonious bullshit.

The battle between journalists and bloggers needs to end. Who should take the first step...journalists. From someone who's been kissing the retail end of society for 8 years knows the customer is always right, even when they are wrong. Bloggers represent the public, the very people journalists are trying to inform. They are our audience. Through their blogs they will either throw roses or rotten fruit. And right now, journalism needs all the public support it can scrounge.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Prehistoric, maybe, But the Newspaper is Far from Extinct

Some call internet technology the next evolution of convergence. Some call it the uber-combatant in a war between the media. Call it anything you want except a replacement.

The newspaper is America's blood and its roots. The newspaper has been around since America was first being colonized. It informed the virgin colonies on happenings in Europe and acted as their printed voices when they had none. It's old and wounded - from battles with radio and television - but it can still drive this American car and should not be permanently deleted yet just because a new medium has started to mature.

Though the internet represents the newspaper's strongest adversary, the internet is faceless. The internet symbolizes a wired, connected global community; a community that is not defined by borders, nor seperated by large bodies of water and land. In reality, the world is. There are language and culture barriers that will continue to distinguish the faces of the world's inhabitants.

Yes, these inhabitants are now able to communicate with similarly-minded peoples of different countries, but only through a text conversation and script interaction. One cannot walk outside their frontdoor and stand beneath the umbrella of a Texas sunset, watch the sun go down and talk to their friends in Providence or Taiwan about that sunset without having to describe it. Those friends cannot experience that sunset through their laptops.

Newspapers will likely have to swallow some of their national and global pride and forfeit a responsibility it established so many years ago, but it cannot allow society, the world, and, most importantly, their readers to forget the value of the newspapers' tradition - community news and faces.

Google news cannot understand the impact of a local school bond proposition the way a reporter with a child in the school district can. MSNBC could never write an obituary for the hardware store owner who sold the hammers and nails to three generations of homebuilders in a small town.

Maybe newspapers cannot compete with the internet giant. But because it's taller than the tallest building, the internet will never be able to distinguish the millions of worker ants - their faces, their names, their lives - that keep this Giant colony alive.

the Daily Miracle

Article one on Newspapers