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NYC Journalism - Riffs and Licks
steelbrassnwood
steelbrassnwood
NYC Journalism
Well, in the aftermath of the Post's exclusive coverage of Kerry's VP choice yesterday (see the Daily News' chortling about the gaffe; the Times also reported that News reporters sent a bottle of Australian wine to the Post along with the note, "Congratulations on your exclusive: Have a nice day.") my first newspaper boss, and the guy who taught me that the bulk of investigative journalism (at least in the pre-web days) was rolls of quarters, copy machines, and dusty file cabinets, had a great column with some suggestions for the new CUNY graduate school of Journalism. The deal? Free tuition and free housing,
but only if they promise to stay in town for the next five years and irritate those in power. In the process, they will overcome the stereotype that A.J. Liebling once wrote about the media: "You can buy most reporters in New York with a beer and a cheap steak."

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shunn From: shunn Date: July 7th, 2004 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's a funny world when the Daily News says, "Leave it to the New York Post to further tarnish its shoddy reputation..." and refers to it disparagingly as a "tabloid." And Bloomberg said the Post ought to be more careful? Or what? He'll have the police accidentally shoot it?

But leaving that aside, I thought Callaghan's piece was great. I'm ashamed to admit that I've only just been discovering the joys of local weeklies like the Astoria Times. Where else am I going to learn why the police were blockading and storming my subway station yesterday morning while I was trying to get to work?
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: July 7th, 2004 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Local newspapers rock!

I spent all of my (not terribly long, of course) journalistic career on local papers, covering local government, and done right, local journalism can be more meaningful and important than any level of national news. Local decisions affect people more deeply, and are done much more quietly, than decisions of larger government bodies. If your taxes go up, you complain, but if someone rezones your block and your neighbor's house is torn down and replaced with an apartment building, you're really upset. And the local paper is the only one that will pay attention -- and working for Callaghan showed me how much trouble you can cause by paying attention, even working for a 25,000-circulation weekly in a town of half a million. Even done badly (as in most of the local Brooklyn weeklies), it's a critical part of the community.

As far as tabloids, they're not always low-rent. Look at Newsday, or the Guardian. As a column on the Journal's op-ed page pointed out recently, "tabloid" wasn't always a pejorative term. The column was sparked by the spectacular Daily News front page on Friday, a big picture of Joel Steinberg with a 36-point caption that read
Let him feel every New York eye burning straight through his rotten soul. Joel Steinberg doesn't like to be stared at. That's why he broke apart a little girl with his bare hands.
It's over the top and more than a little Jerry Springerish, but it probably had a lot of people saying "Damn right." (I did.) As the Journal columnist says, tabloids can be the street conscience of a city, saying things that broadsheets wouldn't dare to: "the no-nonsense, rough-around-the-edges voice of a community and its values...a kind of journalistic vox populi."
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: July 8th, 2004 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Local newspapers rock!

First of all, I concur with what you said about the merits of tabloids.

but only if they promise to stay in town for the next five years and irritate those in power. In the process, they will overcome the stereotype that A.J. Liebling once wrote about the media: "You can buy most reporters in New York with a beer and a cheap steak."

That seems a little naive: there aren't journalism jobs enough in New York City for the seasoned reporters who are looking, much less for new J-school graduates.
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: July 8th, 2004 11:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Local newspapers rock!

True. He also points out in the column that journalists of his stripe would not be welcome at any paper in the city. Of course, if you fired all the hacks and flacks and junket junkies, there'd be lots of openings...
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