Wednesday, January 11, 2006

200th Post on Hurricane Radio

Wow. I never thought it would lead to this in the Spring when I was sending out blog-like emails to everyone in my address book.

Not coincidentally, I'd like to share another example of what I think is lazy reporting by the mainstream media in this country. What really grinds my gears is that the major news organizations have huge budgets and thousands of eager journalists-in-waiting just begging for a chance to investigate stuff, report the story, and get paid a smidgen for their efforts. The big companies could fill the 24 hour newscycle with in-depth reporting and fact finding that educates the viewer/reader far more effectively than with their fluff pieces of tabloid junk that fills the airwaves everyday. The big companies have armies of entry level folks powering the content of their websites, which are also huge. Why can't those websites be any kind of comprehensive? Is a 'read more' link really that hard to put into code?

And I'm willing to say they do sometimes hit on some good stuff. We just showed Radley Balko's piece for Fox News - Fox News for cryin' out loud. But I'd bet they didn't talk about that anywhere on the air today.

And there are those of you who would say, "We get what we ask for," but I don't think that's really very accurate. My proof? 25 million weblogs screaming for real news, and, in the abscence of it, going out an reporting real news on their own!!

But I'll get off the soapbox and get to my example. Today came the press releases concerning the Plan to Rebuild New Orleans. This is how it was covered:

Fair and Balanced/The Rigth Wing Stooge Network.

America's Most Trusted/The Liberal Atlanta Media

Wow. From looking at those two pages, I have to wonder if either news organization sent anyone there, at all, or if some desk jockey with access to the website just clicked "Cut" and "Paste."

At least MSNBC (the one SAWB says no one, not even liberals, pay attention to) had one of their guys actually write his own article. (Maybe I should say 'allegedly'.) It even looks like he called around for his own quotes. Way to go, dude.

Luckily, with the invention of the internet, we don't just have to get our news from the Monopolazy Media, we can actually search around for where these news stories are taken seriously. If its a news story about New Orleans, you can bet they're gonna be more in depth about it in New Orleans. (And I'm keeping an eye on GulfSails for the local reaction.)

I just can't wait to hear what Pops has to say about the same story once it gets run through the New York Whines...


Dante said...

One thing that's important to note is that they're both Associated Press stories. Back in the day when regional news outlets owned the news cycle, the AP was a pretty neat idea. You could contribute to the AP and in return you could report on news from all over the world since other people in other regions were also contributing to the same AP. It was a nice co-op system. The stories are even written in a laddered format that makes it easy to edit the story down to the size the editor thinks it deserves in their particular news product.

The problem now is that news outlets are using the AP as a crutch in lieu of doing their own reporting. The News Orleans situation in particular is important nationally. Newsworthy stories coming out of that reigon right now should be covered by in-house reporters instead of just ripping articles off the AP wire.

There is also a problem of multiple contributors virtually copying entire articles from the AP and resubmitting them as new AP stories. I'm not a news expert, but I imagine it's an "open source" kind of situation where if you use the AP stories to write your own stories, you have to contribute that new story back to the AP. That might not be an actual rule, but it does seem to be standard operating procedure.

This problem is further compounded by the AP's decision to open up their news archives to psuedo-news outlets for a fee. These smaller news outlets typically contribute little to nothing to the AP while taking a large number of stories from the AP. In fact, if you go to a lot of Internet news sites (FoxNews and CNN included) you will see that the majority of their work is the same AP material that everyone else has.

With today's technology, if we want to see news from all over the world we can. We can either peruse the Internet or we can be "old-school" and check out any number of national news stations or newspapers.

For an interesting exercise in just how often an AP story gets copied, try looking up a story using Google News ( You'll find the same AP story being reported hundreds to thousands of times. What's the purpose of this? It's the Internet. I shouldn't be finding the exact same story in a thousand places. I really think that an advantage blogs have right now over standard news sources is that at least when blogs cover the same AP story as everyone else, they add some sort of commentary to it. I'd really like it if Google News just randomly picked one of the countless sites with the same AP story on it and returned it as one result. I might actually start using the site for more than a specific news search if that were the case.

To answer Pat's question, as long as it's cheaper to rape the AP and pay those eager entry-level folks to be gofors, there will be an AP and there will be lazy reporting on the part of the MSM. Then again, "rape" might not be the best word.

Brian: "Mother, were you raped?"
Mother: "Well, at first."

Patrick Armstrong said...

I did notice that they were both AP stories, and I have to say that I'm in complete agreement with you.

I'd just like to say that if every local daily can just rip the AP for their national stories, the dang "local interest" sections should feature the most in-depth reporting in the country.

And every news website should hyperlink to additional resources/local resources somewhere in their article. It ain't like its a tough thing to do.