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Name: Georganna Hancock
Location: San Diego, California, United States

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Changes in Print Journalism

I have not picked on the The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper for a while. (Like they care!) One reason I laid off is because the quality of it may be on the rise after hitting a dangerous bottom coinciding with the national recession.

The new owners and management made quite a few changes (after decimating the writing staff). One was an SSP (shameless self-promotion) calculating the  enormous number of people who read the rag weekly. Read it. Not buy it. But readers' eyes are what advertisers want, and advertising is the blood that sustains a major daily.

The paper also tried various subscription schemes, which I doubt had much positive result, greatly improved color technology used in print, and spectacularly revamped it's website (logo to the right) to be clean, clear and more usable.

What prompts this post, however, were the changes I noticed in last Sunday's Arts section, where a paltry few book reviews are crammed.  I saw more advertising, which usually translates into a little more copy space--enough to sustain eight pages this time, except one was a full-page ad.

I saw more citizen-type journalism (hyperlocal is the new buzz) with a major feature written by a name I recognized (probably one of those laid off staff writers) as a Special which usually means freelance.  Also new, a blog-type "Opera Diary" by a performer in the summer Shakespeare Festival.

Big surprises jumped out from the top of page two:  lists of the top ten singles from Itunes and movies from rottentomatoes.com.  The only book sales reported were the ten top sellers at a local book store. No more New York Times multiple lists. How will our book clubs make selections now?

This week offered only two, but longish, book reviews. One was a reprint from the San Francisco Chronicle filling more than a quarter-page, the other by the Arts editor.  The rest of the section covered local theater and music, with the entire back page devoted to television listings and blurbs.

What provoked me to write anything at all was that intrusion of web content into print media. Is this the trend? It is traditional to run reprints, but a different matter for a paper to report information gathered for other organizations' websites.  That, with the hyperlocalism and the spiffed up Signonsandiego website offer a view of where print media are headed. They no longer carry staffs for professional investigative journalism, and I wonder if they pay for content from websites.

With web news organizations increasingly depending on "citizen journalism" for content (think HuffPo with its many unpaid bloggers), and readers viewing only what agrees with their established opinions, it's no surprise that the populace becomes increasingly polarized on important issues. Fewer reviews of informative books only exacerbates this dilemma.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Snaggle Tooth said...

Ah Journalism (?) with biased blinders on...
(isin't journalism)!
Our local is now shared web info for the whole region of the state- no listings n ads are really local- tho the website's called wickedlocal.
A new free half-sheet is a much better local info read now- They aren't paid either!
Reviews make more bux lately-

9:07 PM  

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