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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were standing in a hardware store trying to figure out which contraption works best for storing a garden hose.

Another customer, standing near us, overheard our discussion and weighed in. It was clear he’d done his research. We laughed as we explored the ins and outs of hose winding. In the end, we went with his choice.

Walking out of the store, I couldn’t help but think of the typical newsroom. Stay with me, please, as there is a connection: In both places — in the aisles of a hardware store and in just about any place where reporters gather — you’re likely to benefit from the gift of someone else’s expertise. All you have to do is raise a question, and the opinions fly.

Sometimes you’re getting help to pick out a silly home improvement tool.

Sometimes you’re brainstorming how to protect democracy.

Alert the blogosphere warlords: Here I go again.

I’ve written a lot about the decline of newspapers and how this imperils a thriving democracy. I’ve had a stake in newspaper journalism for more than 30 years, so call me sentimental if it makes you feel all warm and superior. Do, however, grant me the lessons of my experience. I’ve worked as a freelance writer for peanuts and as a staff person with the rumbling force of a major newspaper. With few exceptions, there’s no comparison.

Online aggregators and so-called citizen journalists never will be a substitute for the newspaper tradition. For that, you want reporters with the time and expertise to dig through the lies and obstructions of politicians with something to hide. For that, you want reporters who make a living wage. You also want reporters who put up with one another in the same room on a regular basis, with time to breathe. Home offices and Facebook do not a newsroom make, no matter how often you’re instant messaging.

I recently confided to a fellow journalist that I miss working in a newsroom. “I miss the camaraderie,” I said, “all the brainstorming.”

He shook his head.

“No,” he said. “You miss working in the old newsroom, the one 10 years ago. You don’t miss what’s going on now.”

We all should be worried about how the changing personality of newsrooms is crippling the creativity of their brightest people. I’m not talking about editors who dumb down content and issue bans on narrative journalism. Those are bad developments, but smart reporters always find ways to work around uninspired bosses.

  • ObozoMustGo

    Democratic National Convention Schedule released by WikiLeaks!

    Democratic National Convention Schedule
    4:00 PM – Opening Flag Burning Ceremony
    4:05 PM – Singing of “G_D___ America” led by Rev. Jeremiah Wright
    4:10 PM – Pledge of Allegiance to Obama
    4:15 PM – Ceremonial ‘I hate America’ led by Michelle Obama
    4:30 PM – Tips on Dodging Sniper Fire – Hillary Clinton
    4:45 PM –Al Sharpton Leads Castrati Choir in Singing “Great Balls of Fire”
    5:00 PM – UFO Abduction Survival – Joe Biden
    5:30 PM – Eliot Spitzer Speaks on “Family Values” via Satellite
    5:45 PM – Tribute to All 57 States
    6:00 PM – Joe Biden Delivers 100,000-Word Speech Featuring 23-Minute Question and 2- Hour Answer
    8:30 PM – Airing of Grievances by the Clintons
    9:00 PM – Bill Clinton Delivers Rousing Endorsement of Obama Girl
    9:15 PM – Tribute Film to Freedom Fighters at Gitmo – Michael Moore
    9:45 PM – Personal Finance Seminar – Charlie Rangell
    10:00 PM – Denunciation of Bitter Gun Owners
    10:30 PM – Ceremonial Waving of White Flag for IRAQ, & Afghanistan
    11:00 PM – Obama Energy Plan Symposium /Tire Gauge Demonstration
    11:15 PM – Free Gov. Blagojevich rally
    11:30 PM – Obama Accepts Tony and Latin Grammy Awards
    11:45 PM – Feeding of the Delegates with 5 Loaves and 2 Fish – Obama Presiding
    12:00 AM – Official Nomination of Obama by Bill Mahre
    12:01 AM – Obama Accepts Nomination, declares that the Kenyan thing was a distraction, he was really born in Bethelehem
    12:05 AM – Celestial Choirs Sing
    3:00 AM – Biden Delivers Acceptance Speech
    OPTION: Closing with a Declaration of War on the rich To be decided just before the Convention

    • Bozo is this the best you can do? How sophmoric and juvenile!! I guess I shouldn’t expect any better from a little-minded person. Come on show me something worthwhile instead of your usual “he/she is an idiot” statements you make. Admit it you hate Obama, why, is it because he’s black or educated or successful or all three. What have you ever achieved in your hateful myopic world.

      • ObozoMustGo

        Get over it billy…. you need to lighten up and laugh a little dude.. my favorite agenda item is at 11:45PM….. hehehehehehe

        Have a nice day!

        • Bozo I laugh a lot especially at Romney’s speeches or singing fests, espeically when he tells us how he sloved the auto industry problems. I thought you ring wingers don’t like when someone makes fun of religious things. I would laugh at your list if it weren’t so lame. By the way why hide behind a alias?

    • dkm42

      And the Republican Convention will probably evolve into a 20 hour gun fight seeing as to their allowing their members to pack heat.

      • ObozoMustGo

        Get over it dk…. you need to lighten up and laugh a little, dude.. my favorite agenda item is at 11:45PM….. hehehehehehe

        Have a nice day!

        • Hey Duuuude you need to come up with something that is actually funny to someone else besides you sitting in your little dark room

  • hate2haggle

    I’d like to be as sentimental about the demise of the print press as you, but honestly I cannot. I spent enough time in the news business to learn to read upside down and backwards and fondly remember the clattering noise of linotype machines. As production methods have changed requiring less personnel, it seems to have also infected the newsroom, too. I live on the other side of the Ohio line in NW Penna. One year ago I discovered that two of our local state legislators belong to the lobbying group A.L.E.C. and after reading a piece about the group in The Nation magazine wanted to alert my local media. I called 3 television station news directors and 2 political reporters for the areas largest daily, plus smaller news outlets in the area. I’ve been tweeting, e-mailing and posting comments now for months and Crickets from the media. During this time Marcellus legislation has been passed along with Voter I.D. laws and many other A.L.E.C. initiatives.

  • ObozoMustGo

    Here’s a new word for all you leftist nutjobs out there that describes Obozo’s tenure and his “fundamental transformation of America” quite well…

    Ineptocracy – (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) — A system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

    There’s a lot in that definition, my leftist nutjob friends. Keep reading it. You may actually understand it at some point.

    Have a nice day!

  • I would mourn the disintegration of the main stream media, if it weren’t for the fact they haven’t been doing their job for twenty years or more — practically since the Nixon scandals, when their takeaway meme was not “Attack corruption,” which I, and most citizens, could get behind, but “Attack Republicans,” which a third of the electorate finds unfair and offensive.

    In no particular order, the MSM has ignored, denied, derided or otherwise covered up:

    1. Rathergate, where the MSM glommed on to a blatant forgery concocted by a rabid anti-Bush activist and defended it to the last ditch.
    2. Fast and Furious. This underhanded assault on a neighboring friendly nation has never been acknowledged by the MSM, who profess to be amazed that the Republicans are persecuting Eric Holder.
    3. Solyndra. The fact that the Obama administration shoveled money into this technological loser while telling them to delay layoffs till the deed was done has been soft-pedaled to the point that it is usually necessary to go thirty paragraphs into the story before it is mentioned. It probably wouldn’t be mentioned at all except that Solyndra went publicly and embarrassingly belly-up.
    4. GM bailout. Contrary to two centuries of statute and common law, the Obama administration extinguished the interest of the stockholders (to be expected, since this was a bankruptcy) and the bondholders — who by law and custom, get whatever value remains in the corpus of a bankrupt. A case could be made that the bondholders should share with the retirement fund of the UAW, I suppose. Instead, the UAW got the whole shmeer and the bondholders got the shaft.

    There are plenty more examples. Here in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution assiduously covered for Mayor Bill Campbell, a corrupt, nasty incompetent whose sole asset was a deck of 52 race cards. They backed him through two terms, then when he was out of office, convicted of tax evasion and disbarred, they claimed “We warned you!” But they didn’t.

    Bye-bye, big media. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.