Monday, October 19, 2009

Text of Columbia report on MSM breakdown

Writing off the capacity of the traditional media to continue ably covering the news, a report commissioned by the journalism school at Columbia University calls upon the feds, foundations and journalism faculties to take up the slack.

In the 98-page report commissioned by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, Len Downie, the editor emeritus of the Washington Post, and Professor Michael Schudson trace the decline and fall of the mainstream media, concluding:

“The days of a kind of news media paternalism or patronage that produced journalism in the public interest, whether or not it contributed to the bottom line, are largely gone. American society must now take some collective responsibility for supporting independent news reporting in this new environment….”

The report was scheduled for release at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Because the embargo was widely broken this morning by the New York Times, Washington Post and others, I am publishing the text below:

Reconstruction of Journalism


Blogger Jim Santori said...

The louder voices in this debate come from those most worried about survival because, I posit, they are the ones who despite having the largest staffs and higher salaries are less connected with their communities.
Now I'm just a small town publisher but it strikes me that survival of the newspapers and, yes, journalism, will depend more on experiments such as those at Cedar Rapids with its Community Community Connection initiative. We need to be more attuned to our communities, giving them news, solutions and analysis they can use and let the market control the outcome. If not, there isn't any amount of tax dollars or donations that can make our communities want to read us.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Siphoning off some of the $7 billion in federal funds that are currently used to wire libraries is not the way to fund newsrooms. With government money comes government control, as Wall Street bankers are learning as they review their annual bonuses. Do we really think politicians are going to vote for money to fund do-gooder investigations of their activities? Sure they will.
Government funding would also perpetuate the local monopolies. What guarantee is there that publishers would just take the money and declare a special dividend, rather than pouring it into their newsrooms. Publishers are making business decisions about what sells. I agree that public service journalism has taken a big hit because of it, but these suggestions are not likely to get publishers to reverse course.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for sharing this news. Sincerely -- Roger Darnell

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like they didn't think of their 'value add' when they flushed 'fair and balanced" journalism, you know, what reporters used to do who, what when, how and why. Once lost, credibility is not a renewable resource.

They should have thought through their end point after throwing in with one political party.

State run media will be the final nail.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do I have such a visceral bad reaction against this report? Could it be the creation of a mythical era when newspapers engaged in high-minded, profits-be-damned public service? Was the journalism of the 1960's really that great?

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This report appears to be based on the assumption that there is such a thing as "independent reporting" which produces objective news that is essential for a democracy.

That assumption is wrong. There is no such thing as factual reporting: it's all opinion, and most of it is biased to the Left.

When newspapers fold, the only losses will be some cushy jobs and a propaganda outlet for one side of politics.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The world is flat.

7:29 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Too few are examining/obsessed with the cost analysis of investigative reporting and too few are looking at the economics and training involved in re-imagining revenue sources. There's so much more work to be done on new media advertising, but as a powerful influential force, Newspaper leaders could move the needle. Small changes to the IAB formats and aggressive salesforce training would improve the situation dramatically, and stop the endless machete's to newsroom headcount.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Matt is right. News is a commodity. Giving it away for free was a
colossal error in judgment, as analysis in this blog frequently
suggests. Those arguing it's futile to focus on saving dead-tree
journalism may be right. It may be just as futile to advocate for
preserving old-fashioned news gathering with any universal standards.
So what then naysayers? Give in to the era of disengagement and let
the next generation decide when corruption in city hall is worth noting or national security matters because there's a draft and they might wake up in boot camp?

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is nice. I'm sitting in the J-school right now reading it to fellow students who are learning the print media trade. The question we are all asking, "Why are we here?" Columbia has failed to provide an answer to that in any of their curriculum.

12:31 PM  

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