News Gathering In The Information Age

High Jive rightly thought I’d be interested in reading Michael Miner’s rambling piece in Chicago Reader about the struggle for survival at the Sun Times.
There’s a discussion about the need for the paper to become much more local in its coverage and how the move to centralize ad sales in downtown Chicago hurt the Sun Times, which operates several suburban titles. There’s also discussion about overpaid “celebrity” journos, journalism’s role in American society and how much influence the public relations industry has in shaping the stories of the day.
Then Miner takes on the big bad Web…

Today, thanks to the rapacious Internet, there’s a deadline every second. Web sites no one ever visits delight in beating other equally obscure sites by trivial margins on breaking local stories of no significance, fuming when aggregators deny them credit. The demand for constantly new news far exceeds the capacity of Official Newsmakers, madmen, God, and even sports to provide it. Every incremental development is divided and subdivided and regurgitated, and this process doesn’t make people informed–it makes them numb.

I like the persuasiveness of the passage, but the conclusion is tenuous. I don’t feel numb, as I troll the Web for my daily take. I feel nourished, which is why I fish for the information in the first place. Of course, I prefer to fish in rich waters, not the toxic echo pools Miner describes.
As for the need to break a story on the always-on Web, or “rapacious Internet” as the case may be, I see it as less important than the quality of the reporting and/or analysis offered up.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.