(AV17519-1) Can There Be Freedom of the Press without a Press?

good evening and welcome to our
committee tonight where we’re gonna be talking about whether or not you can
have a free press without the press a little bit shocking I know
tonight is presented by the Committee on lectures the first time in midday
committee we’d like to thank also the GSB the Greenlee school the Society for
Professional Journalists the Iowa State Daily and Lee Enterprises we have a
number of distinguished panelists tonight who I’m really pleased to tell
you about Steve Slattery right here at the end he’s the current information
content conductor at the Cedar Rapids Gazette interesting I know Steve grew up
in Shenandoah Iowa and has worked at the Omaha world-herald the Des Moines
Register Minot Daily News and I can tell you the
Kansas City Star and Times and The Evening Sentinel in Shenandoah mr. Batra
is also embraced technology as a medium for change in the media and if you want
to know a lot more about some of the things that he’s talked about you should
check out his blog because it’s pretty interesting and if you want to learn
about how to use Twitter how journalists can use computers to report accurately
check him out we also have confusin right here
he’s a former features reporter for the Des Moines Register he has won numerous
national awards as a features reporter he’s won a couple of scripts Howard’s
contests and I think 11 11 or 12 he joined the register in 1981 and then
left there for the Baltimore Sun where he wrote one of the best series I’ve
ever read called a stage in their lives and I highly suggest everybody go check
that out he also he grew up in Granger Iowa and
he’s been working in newspapers since his sophomore year in high school about
right okay and then this is Kelley eagle and Jill I used to
work at Meredith in the okay Kelly Eagle is also an Iowa native because
apparently they grow us here she graduated from ISU 105 and as a had
a minor on apparel merchandising she was the part of the first apprentice group
of the Greenlee school and apprenticed at Better Homes and garden and she moved
to Atlanta Georgia when she graduated where she was the assistant editor at
the Atlanta home and lifestyle magazine and now she’s back in Iowa and working
as a freelance writer for a number of local countries a number of local
publications excuse me and she lives in West Des Moines and then there at the
end is Angie hunt she’s a KCCI reporter a lot of you might
know because she pretty much reports exclusively on names she grew up in Lake
City Iowa and started her career in Cedar Rapids before moving to KCCI about
five years ago and finally our moderator tonight is dr. Michael Buju whom most of
you know as the director of the Greenlee school
some of you may know him as a poet some of you may know him as a writer and I
know him as a reporter he worked for the United Press International for a number
of years and I also know him as the man whose door is always open at the end of
the hall at the Greenlee school if you have any questions about journalism if
you have any questions about news stories you should be doing you talked
to dr. bhujiya he still writes for a number of published publications and
spends a huge amount of his time holding journalists and journalism up to the
standards that he holds himself up to and let me tell you those are pretty
high and a few more things before we get started we’ve got $5 spj t-shirts back
there that y’all should check out because tomorrow afternoon we’re gonna
have you can go talk to Lindsay over there who’s waving we’re gonna markers
out tomorrow so when you show up to the First Amendment Day lunch from 11:00 to
2:00 tomorrow for free food you can write all over your shirts we’re also
having a freedom march at nine from City Hall and you should come see Odell Magee
tomorrow night at 7:00 in the sunroom thank you thank you Russia and thank all of you
for for coming here tonight I have a special instruction for our panelists
when they do speak to speak into the microphone so that everybody can hear
you we’ve had problems with that in the past
well thanks for coming to tonight’s panel discussion the title can there be
freedom of the press without a press is not about journalism or journalism
education it’s about democracy in the future of democracy and this is how
we’re going to proceed I will make an opening statement based on the title of
our discussion and each participant will have ten minutes to respond to it with
their own opening statements then the panel will respond to each other for an
additional 15 minutes and then finally we’ll ask each panelist to make a
summary conclusion and then we’ll have you asked some questions on the premise
can there be freedom of the press without a press we have a telling array
of evidence in the selection of our speakers we had invited nigel Jawara of
The Associated Press to be here tonight but I advised him not to after his wire
service expressed concern that he may exercise free speech and voice opinion
for instance he might have mentioned that some newspapers here in Iowa Cedar
Rapids being one of them are contemplating eliminating the AP
because they no longer could afford it or they disagree with the Terms of
Service Nigel’s absence testifies to the title
of this panel discussion can there be freedom of the press without a press
perhaps the AP should host its own discussion I would title it can there be
an Associated Press as long as there is Google in 2004 I urged the AP to sue
Google because it was distributing its content for free an aspect of the
internet that has destroyed journalism as we knew it keep the word free in
and see how if at all the Internet has changed the meaning of that word
internet is not the devil in this discussion google is internet is the
hell where Google resides rather than sue the devil as I have been advocating
for years The Associated Press has other plans for the dominant search engine
according to Businessweek and I’ll read you a paragraph from that report the AAP
plans to build an online destination where it hopes web users can easily find
and read its news stories and those of other content creators when it comes to
compiling online news the AAP wants to out google google the web search giant
has quote a wacky algorithm end quote for collecting news stories AAP chief
executive Tom Curley says in an interview quote it does not lead people
to authoritative sources Google does not lead people to authoritative sources
here’s a flash for the AAP your brainstorm happened five years too late
Google so dominates distribution we used to call that circulation the lifeblood
of the news literally that fewer readers are subscribing to print articles
believe you they can Google yes Mustafa leaves I’m using your trademark as a
verb national and international news two of
our panelists present tonight are still employed because their audiences are
local angie hunt a KCCI reporter and Greenlee school teacher and Steve beauty
editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette true KCCI and the Gazette have an internet
presence but their on-air and print reports mitigates mitigate against the
web’s tendency to distract in a multitasking environment to disrespect
others in the cloak of anonymity and to disorient in the obliteration of time
and more important place there is no there there and that is the source of
our whoa that phrase is not mine the Avalon garde writer Gertrude Stein
coined it 80 years ago about her urban childhood the entire quote is worth
noting quote the trouble with Oakland is that when you get there there isn’t any
there there that appears in her book everybody’s autobiography
the Internet is writing everybody’s autobiography the trouble is when you
get there there isn’t any there there where do you
want to go today many remember that this was the motto of Microsoft which is not
the devil Microsoft merely provides the window
through which we glimpse the devil while exploring Hell in a 1997 post
CNET news analyzed a Microsoft commercial I’m going to read for that
report in advertising there’s a long tradition of making products seem more
elegant than they really are by playing classical music in the background
now Microsoft’s image makers are following suit with a TV spot for
Internet Explorer accompanied by the sweet sounds of confutatis maledictis
from Mozart’s Requiem as the TV screen flashes Mozart’s where do you want to go
today’s slogan Wolfgang’s lyrics sound off contra tates maledictis phlegm is
akribos addictive that phrase in latin means the damned and a curse are
convicted to the flames of hell where would you like to go today
how about des moines ken fussen one of the finest writers in the country was
bought out last year by the register Kelly Eagle one of the best German
magazine journalists we at greenly ever trained was let let go this year by
Meredith Corporation Hewson was doomed by kinetise dance with the devil eagle
was let go because print is dead that phrase became popular in 1984 some
remember that is the year of a dystopia by George Orwell others as the year
Apple released its Macintosh computer neither had anything to do with print is
dead that’s a line from the movie ghostbusters in the film secretary
janine melnitz is flirting with computer nerd Egon Spengler melnitz
you’re very handy I can tell I bet you like to read a lot Spangler print is
dead no no that’s very fascinating to me I
read a lot myself some people think I’m too intellectual but I think it’s a
fabulous way to spend your spare time I also play racquetball do you have any
hobbies I collect spores molds and fungus print is dead its obituary was
prophesied in another 1980s movie broadcast news about the demise of
standards and television here’s a quote from that screenplay what do you think
the devil is going to like if he’s around nobody is going to
be taken in if he has a long red pointy tail no I’m semi-serious here he will
look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he
influences a great god-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing
google’s slogan by the way his do no evil
he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important just
coax along flash over substance just a tiny bit and he will talk about all of
us really being salesmen that was the feeling in 2007 at the annual convention
of the Association for education and journalism and mass communication there
was a lot of selling happening them particularly by gannett senior vice
president for News Phil Kerry was touting the launch of the Gannett
Information Center that was replacing the traditional newsroom as I have told
many of my downsized friends at the register a few who worked for us
Internet doesn’t define information the way newspapers do I tried to explain
that to Kerry but he had places to go in 2003 before it canet fathom the concept
I wrote about what information centers would do to journalism this citation
appears in interpersonal divide to search for community in a technological
age which was marketed at the height of convergence by my publisher Oxford
University Press marketed as a subversive book quote imagine traveling
to a community and stopping at the visitors information center asking about
sites of interest instead of reliable data you get gossip and conjecture when
you complain you are told that information is not necessarily grounded
in fact quote that doesn’t make sense you say and virtual domains it does
according to historian theater Arosa quote in the past the word information
was always denoted a sensible statement that conveyed a recognizable verbal
meaning usually what we would call a fact in the high-tech media age
information has lost its common sense definition rose act notes that has come
to mean electronic messages that can be counted catalogued encoded and decoded
the depreciation of information not only impacts education as internet use
expands especially in schools but also the reliability of journalism with
audience typically unable to cipher fact from factoids and factoids from fiction
worse some do not recognize those distinctions many more do not care and
citation when I wrote that Gannett stock price was 82 dollars a share with
revenue increasing 23% over the previous year in 2007 when Gannett promoted
information centers at a ejm C its stock price had fallen to $60 a share last
week Gannett was selling for $3.75 a share up from a low of a dollar 85 a
share in 2007 few and AE JMC were paying attention to my warnings this year I was
asked to expound on them to launch a new Association website aptly named hot
topics and iraq’ late on the future of journalism because I know the nature of
Internet I also know how to use it to generate revenue that requires us to
think like Google’s co-creator Sergey Brin then like Phil Curry’s good Nets
Phil Carey and he’s recently retired in my post I explained that there are a few
of any successful business models from Mass Communication on the web it’s the
nature of the platform Internet does not charge for information that sells once
it gives that away for free internet vens information about information that
sells more than once in a data bank this is a devastating coincidence for print
journalism more than other platforms newspapers believe that information has
value by the time that information is printed processed distributed and read
it passes for old news on the Internet to counter that Consultants told
publishers to invest heavily in online journalism and make the news interactive
palatable and pretty those consultants forgot one fact it really doesn’t matter
how inviting or engaging your web portal is if those who visit there don’t want
to pay for anything we are coming to terms with that fact it isn’t our
interest to do so each newsroom is a storehouse of
information about information data banks full of Records appropriately called the
morgue court records cop reports murders drunk drivers sports statistics births
deaths political disclosures foreclosures housing starts
wills and testimonies of all sorts we are learning to vend that data selling
it more than once like addresses of drunk drivers to defense attorneys
updating that monthly for small fee when we master that marketing skill the
nature of news gathering not the technology will change we will have
created a successful business model in the trade off we will report news that
affirms opinions rather than informs the populace we no longer will be defenders
of the Constitution but generators of the economy bit by little bit we will
lower standards where they are important and cooks along with flash over
substance and we will talk about all of us really being salesmen better that
than no journalism at all monetizing new media via the concept of free as Google
does when it does no evil go ahead google the word free you’ll get their
free site calm telling you how to get free stuff on the internet you’ll get
free clickers free cell phones free credit card checks free software free
magazines an article title free why zero dollars is the future of business free
spyware free antivirus we’re free shareware free websites free templates
free downloads free download managers free music free games free e-mail free
greeting cards free hit counters free icons comics DreamTrips and dates all
for free free free and then you will get by chance or serendipity the Detroit
Free Press which happens to be a Gannett newspaper that recently limited home
delivery and print editions placing more emphasis on digital audio and video and
mobile offerings journalism pundits are saying that free comm is the future of
journalism I’m not so sure does journalism have a future can there be
freedom of the press without a press can there be a free press if we give the
press away for free there’s the rub if information has no value then what will
become of our news values from fact to follow up from prominence to proximity
from usefulness to timeliness let’s hear what our panelists have to say thank you dr. bhushaiah and thank you
for for all those folks who all those folks who who were responsible for
organizing this day I’m very pleased to be a part of it I’d like to start with a
couple of requests if you have a cell phone please get it out and hold it up
show me your cell phone okay and now what I’d like you to do if you have used
that phone today to send or receive written communication or images whether
by text message email or web please open up or activate your phone so that the
screen lights up now wave the phone look around you this is the future of freedom
of the press it is healthy it is thriving and it will not be stopped even
if the companies that own printing presses can’t find their way to a
prosperous future the light of freedom shines as bright as those lights we saw
around this room just a moment ago my parents taught me to be a polite guest
so part of me wants to thank dr. bhushaiah for his hospitality and not
politely at his remarks but a panel discussion without disagreement would be
dull indeed so I will be a polite guest and help my host present a lively
discussion by disagreeing with nearly everything you just said Google is not
the devil the Internet is not hell and either one is a threat to freedom of the
press print is far from dead but if newspapers die because we failed to
develop a new business model I am confident that our First Amendment
freedoms will carry on in digital communication two years ago this month I
was in Germany and visited the Gutenberg museum in Mainz if you love newspapers
and love freedom of the press and if you ever visit Germany you need to visit
this museum and see the birthplace of the press and the history of printing it
was an emotional experience to see these artifacts from the early
days of printing I especially remember my feeling of reverence in a nearly dark
room where three original Gutenberg Bibles were displayed under protective
glass more than three centuries after Gutenberg printed those Bibles this
nation’s founders decided to guarantee freedom of the press in the First
Amendment to our Constitution they didn’t guarantee healthy profit margins
or obscene profit margins to newspapers just the right to publish this freedom
was promised in an era when newspaper served small niche audiences such as a
political party or an ethnic community with a mix of news and strong opinion
many newspapers were one person shops that scraped out a meager living for
that person if that sounds a lot like today’s bloggers and niche sites then
maybe you can see why I feel like the First Amendment remains strong
I do love newspapers I broke into this business late in the First Amendment’s
second century when I started delivering the Columbus citizen journal in 1967 in
Ohio that newspaper stopped publishing in 1985 my first journalism job was for
the evening Sentinel in Shenandoah Iowa in 1971 The Sentinel stopped publishing
in the 1990s ken fussen and I were present for the death of the Des Moines
Tribune in 1982 I don’t go through this list when I’m doing job interviews by
the way I was an editor for the Kansas City Times when it published its final
edition in 1990 every one of those papers died before Google was born and
before the world wide web was more than a novelty newspaper circulation peaked
in 1993 the Year Larry Page and Sergey Brin turned 20 and five years before
they found at Google so let’s not blame Digital competition for upheaval in the
newspaper business we were killing each other off and failing to innovate long
before competitors started figuring out the secrets of success in the digital
marketplace as a paper carrier reporter editor and writing coach I have worked
for eight different newspapers can’t keep a job I guess not a single one of
those eight papers really charged for content the price you pay for a
newspaper whether it’s deliver
to your home or whether you buy up a single copy in a grocery store barely
covers the costs of production and distribution if that we always made our
money by assembling a large audience and helping businesses connect with that
audience I remember well the early days of the web newspaper executives by and
large regarded it with disdain they neither recognized nor sought to develop
this new mediums potential for helping us revolutionize our core jobs of
informing our communities and connecting businesses with consumers too many
newspaper executives ignored these new opportunities for too long the more
progressive ones tried to cram their existing products into this new space
rather than exploring the possibilities of this opportunity our advertising fit
is awkwardly into the new medium as our content did we left it to Brin and page
and Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Bezos and Craig Newmark and Josh Marshall and
Arianna Huffington and a lot of other people to figure out how commerce and
journalism would work in the digital marketplace when newspaper executives
should have been working risking and thinking differently to develop new ways
of telling stories and new ways of sharing information and new waves of
serving business customers their primary concern about the internet was that
staff members might spend some valuable to work time looking at pornography
don’t get me wrong I’m mourn the passing of each newspaper that dies a final
edition of the Rocky Mountain News hangs in my office today and I plan to fight
like hell to ensure that the Gazette continues publishing for years to come
but I don’t fear that Google or the Internet threaten our First Amendment
freedoms the greatest threat to freedom of the press are Americans who don’t
understand the First Amendment or politicians who do when I hear people
talk about how the internet or newspaper failures threaten freedom of the press I
think about the New York Times and I think about Talking Points Memo in 2002
the New York Times had a net income of 300 mil
in dollars after taxes that year had also published lots of page one stories
that were outright lies that helped push this nation along the path to a war that
has cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars I should add that
The Associated Press in Washington Post published similar similar lies only the
Washington bureau of knight-ridder which no longer exists performed the
watchdog role for which we cherish our press writ press freedom and that was
right after the.com bust when newspaper publishers were heaving sighs of relief
thinking that this internet tine thing might actually be a fad not worrying
that it was a threat to the First Amendment when the internet proved more
durable the newspaper company still stumbled and bumbled in their efforts to
innovate while others took the lead in finding our digital future do you
remember the scandal that brought down attorney general Alberto Gonzales that
was the result of a classic piece of investigative reporting in the strongest
traditions of the First Amendment it could have been the work of the New York
Times redoubling its watchdog efforts to atone for its shame of shameful
reporting on pre-war intelligence that could have been the work of The
Associated Press which has a nationwide news gathering network with reporters in
each of the states where US attorneys were being fired but finding the pattern
for those firings was actually the work of Talking Points Memo an independent
blog working with their audience and one of the first and best examples of
journalistic crowdsourcing Josh Marshall and his small Talking Points Memo staff
pieced together the disparate reports about scattered US attorneys being fired
they blew the whistle on the efforts by Gonzalez and the White House to use the
Justice Department for political ends those digital journalists launched the
scandal that eventually attracted the attention of the supposed Giants of the
Free Press there was dr. bhujiya enough they’re there to force the Attorney
General of the United States to resign talking points memos reporting on this
story had substantially more there than all the New York Times
reporting on weapons of mass destruction I am pleased that many newspaper
companies are now better late than never understanding the needs of innovation
and the opportunities of the digital age in fact it was the Detroit Free Press
the toppled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick through some more outstanding watchdog
reporting of the digital age including obtaining copies of the mayor’s text
messages the truth is that google bloggers and other internet news sources
whether they a grenade were originated are exercising freedom of the press even
if they own servers rather than a printing press and The Associated Press
and newspapers will not protect the First Amendment or their business by
using the courts an arm of the government how does that feel about
freedom of the press to attack the fair use doctrine a principle based in press
freedom we won’t protect the First Amendment by finding a way to charge
Google or direct customers for Internet content those are strictly business
matters remember that darkened room I told you
about in the Gutenberg museum or I saw three original Gutenberg Bibles off to
the left in another case or even older Bibles handmade by monks in the
centuries before Gutenberg developed movable type
they were beautiful works of art passed from generation to generation as family
treasures I think newspapers today are living in a similar time to those monks
in the time of Gutenberg if their product was that beautiful handcrafted
book then its days were numbered but if their product was a message that they
believed in their souls was the Word of God that new technology was going to
take that message to countless millions who never would have had a chance to own
one of those heirloom Bibles we face the similar situation if freedom of the
press rests in the machine or in its product ink on paper delivered to your
home daily full of yesterday’s you news then maybe we are in a dire situation
but freedom of press is not a reference to a machine or
a product freedom of the press is freedom of watchdog reporting of
storytelling of opinion it’s freedom to bring insight and meaning and truth to
our communities just as Gutenberg’s new machine gave new
life to the scriptures I believe Google and those machines you waved a few
minutes ago will give new life to freedom of the press I didn’t really he
could get all that cool what free stuff on the web I’m gonna have to go home and
check it out we’ve made a command decision to sit here I’ve known Steve a
long time he’s mostly full of crap oh I’ll explain all right first thing the
first thing I want to do tonight is to make set the record clear I pursued the
buyout with the register they didn’t come to me I’ve been working for
newspapers since my sophomore year in high school and I wanted to try
something different so I laid myself off before Gannett had the chance which is
probably not the smartest thing to do in the middle of the worst economy since
the Great Depression but why make life easy by the way a little advice for you
severance pay is the greatest invention ever if you ever have a chance to get
paid for doing nothing grab it I spent the time I spent this time learning
something valuable about myself it wasn’t newspaper work that was tired
of it was working I’m very good at not working in fact at the risk of bragging
I’d like to say I’m great at it not working is in fact my dream job and you
know what they say find something you love the money will follow well I’d love
not working but I’m still waiting for the cash because here’s the thing you
can’t tell this by looking at me but I like to eat and groceries aren’t free
which which brings us to the point here tonight why you should give me your
money no wait can there be freedom of the
press without the press my first inclination instinct is to say of course
there can we’re freer now than any time in human
history at least in our ability to find it from a
disseminated we’re all editors now and if I have a story that I thinks need to
be shared all I have to do is post it on my personal website and it’s instantly
available to anyone with internet access goodbye gatekeepers but here’s the
question I keep returning to and it’s the question that that makes me I don’t
care whether Google is the devil or the Savior here’s a question I want to know
in this brave new world who’s going to pay Clark Clark Kaufman I don’t know if
you recognize that name because I just spit it out it’s Clark Kaufman Clark’s
our reporter for the Des Moines Register and he’s one of the best investigative
journalists in the country he was a poet or finalist a few years ago for
uncovering that Cass County deputies were cutting deals on traffic tickets
and he’s recently disclosed the situation let’s in which mentally
retarded men from Texas were shipped to add a list of Iowa to work at a turkey
processing plant and live in a bunkhouse Clark performs the vital kind of vital
watchdog role that newspapers have long considered their role so who’s gonna pay
him in the future investigative reporting is expensive and
time-consuming those kinds of stories don’t often attract Internet traffic
that might be gained by say cute pictures of your dog prom videos or the
daily shots of young women getting drunk at the local bars all of which the
register features prominently on its web site right next to Clark’s stories but
give the register and connect credit for this so far at least they’re still
willing to pay Clark for his work other newspaper reporters haven’t been so
lucky they’ve been laid off by the thousands because the economic model to
support journalists and journalism no longer works I realize the sentiment
exists out there that newspapers are getting exactly what’s coming to them
they’ve been slow to react to the Internet as Steve says they’re too
biased to this to that the ink rubs off on my hands the hell with them let them
die okay fine I don’t longer subscribe the register
myself I read their stories online because they’re free and I’d rather
spend the money on other things like food
if newspapers go under they go under but the question remains who’s going to pay
Clark Kaufman who’s going to pay reporters to do their important work
who’s going to pay you is Google gonna pay him no as the doctor
said Google wants to other people to pay is Drudge going to pay them no he just
posted the work that others have paid for is the Huffington Post gonna pay
doubtful oh that’s one news aggregator that actually has hired a few reporters
with the aggregators say they offer in return is traffic and they’re right but
the revenue from revenue from Internet traffic does not begin to pay newspapers
what it requires to maintain a new staff both Eric Schmidt the CEO of Google and
Arianna Huffington have recently said or written that newspaper people need to
quit whining and focus on producing a product that consumers want now we get
to the heart of the matter because there isn’t anybody out there clamoring for
stories about the ad Alissa bunkhouse is there there isn’t a great demand for
City Council budget stories or making sure that somebody is attending a
legislative committee meeting or checking to see if board that Board of
Education members are actually using their tax money the way they promised
you all remember the last time the media gave consumers what they want on a large
scale don’t you Steve just mentioned it it occurred during the build-up to the
Iraq war when very few news organizations went to stand up to the
administration for fear of looking unpatriotic
that’s what occurs when all you do is give consumers what they want that in
cute dog pictures let’s understand something I agree with doctor the doctor
about this information is not news I thought Gannett was wrong to start
calling newsrooms information centers because information covers everything
from advertisements to press releases to cute dog pictures
it’s information if I print the school lunch menu it’s news if I tell you that
the food is tainted and your child is at risk to say there’s no qualitative
difference between the two so suggest there’s no difference between a photo of
young coeds getting drunk in a bar and Clark Kaufman’s investigative pieces in
some academic circles there’s this utopian vision that an army of citizen
journalists will step into the void and fulfill traditional reporting rules I
have my own idea citizen journalism professors will just pull people in off
the street and have them teach journalism if there’s no skill set
required of reporters if just anyone can do it then the same should hold true for
the people who teach them I don’t think I’m gonna get very far with that one
especially not here look I don’t think being a reporter is brain surgery and
the idea of citizen journalists sounds good in theory
Steve just great gave you a great example from the talk
Points Memo and there’s others citizen journalism the bloggers essentially
brought down 60 minutes and Dan Rather if you remember but those examples are
incredibly rare there are an army of citizen journalism looking to cover the
news in Iowa and going to the Statehouse and the police blotter the bottom
there’s a lot more situations of of these citizen journalism journalists who
do stories in which they have a personal stake in they’re advocates for something
there’s a lot more of those circumstances than there are the others
this idea of citizen journalism to me is yet another approach to thinking that
you can get good reporting without paying for it it’s a mirage
I’m fully aware of the problems of the big media companies for the New York
Times the CBS the Des Moines Register but when I see one of their news
broadcasts or stories I know that there has been an attempt however feeble to
tell me something that they believed to be accurate and even-handed I know the
reporters have tried to get it right even when they fail to do so what Steve
didn’t mention to you as bad is that that coverage leading up to the Iraq war
was I will I mean it was terrible but why do that gives New York Times
credit is they have apologized and corrected it it was too late to make a
difference then but they realize they did something wrong you never see a
blogger telling you they did something wrong or very very seldom anyway I fear
what’s going to replace these larger institutions because I don’t think it’s
good for democracy for freedom if all information news is regarded equally
which is to say not worthy of trust there’s a difference between healthy
skepticism and cynicism and a difference between cynicism and outright disbelief
if we can’t agree on what the facts are how can we ever agree on anything how
can society make a decision my hope is and I think Steve’s too is my hope is
that consumers will treat the news as they would anything of value and bigger
begin to recognize that they’re going to have to pay for quality reporting if not
we’re going to see more and more layoffs and fewer and fewer Clark Kaufman’s out
there and that’s not good for democracy but it’s very good news or perhaps I
should say information if you’re looking to exploit mentally challenged worker
and a small workers in a small towns turkey plant you get what you pay for
it’s no less true in our business than any other thank you
I have to say that I came at this from a completely different angle as a recent
graduate and since then the marketplace has changed the marketplace changed when
the marketplace changed when I was in school and it’s been changing ever since
I’ve been out I think the media has gone on for too long with the mentality of
we’re just going to produce what we think they want and that’s gonna survive
instead of thinking what do consumers want what do they want they need the
news they need quick reporting but it’s not impossible to give the readers
something that they’re interested in there are some news outlets who have
done that the LA Daily News and the Bakersfield California and have put up
digital editions where you can pick and choose which pieces of the news you want
and I think that’s an interesting way to get people to pay for the information
they want and still have freedom of the press there are also options for
magazines which is an industry that I’m very familiar with magazines when they
stop their print editions they go online that isn’t the same as folding and I
think that there has been a bad taste in people’s mouths when magazines stick to
online publications there are tons of options for producing valuable and
usable online content just look at the success of Twitter and Facebook and all
the online outlets who have been able to make it work at the same time I don’t
believe that print journalism will will go completely digital I think there’s
something to be said for the experience of sitting at home with the magazine
people spend all day in front of their technology and when they come home at
night to read their news or to do something that’s enjoyable like read a
magazine they don’t want to sit in front of a computer the experience isn’t great
it’s not tactile it’s not as relaxing I think that people enjoy that experience
so if newspapers and magazines are closing how can journalism and
journalists survive I feel that it’s only this strong that will survive it’s
the people who are versatile and will stay with the media as it goes we always
need journalists who can tell a story and find
facts and tell others about them existing journalists and new grads need
to understand how to adapt the skills they learn in school to the real world
and to the current marketplace they need to be innovative they need to know the
latest technologies be able to blog right for the web right for print
assemble slideshows style shoots right hard news and track down leads so if you
sit in a classroom every day and just learn how to do one thing it’s gonna be
a rude awakening when you go into the real world newspapers may be filing
bankruptcy and magazines may be folding but that doesn’t mean that the news is
dying there’s always a story to tell and somebody will always tell it no matter
what form it comes in I also want to thank everyone here tonight for coming
out and being a part of this discussion and inviting me to be here tonight I
feel like I come from a completely different perspective as well as a
television reporter I was actually jotting down some notes today as I was
on my way to Knoxville to cover a rally at the Veterans Hospital there a number
of people had come out to exercise their First Amendment rights and protesting
the fact that the hospital is slated to close there by the end of the year and I
bring that up and I point that out even though somewhat off-topic but I think it
relates to what all of us are essentially saying here tonight is that
news value and how do news consumers play a role in that and I think we all
do in defending that First Amendment right in terms of how do we exercise
that right and how do we demand what we want in terms of our news coverage in
that news value again my perspective is different as a television reporter as
many of the panels have touched on tonight really I think the issue
confronting us today is that value of news and when I received some of the
points from dr. Boucher for this evening and he posed that question of how do you
maintain the quality news product if you’re giving it away for free at first
kind of had to chuckle because I’m in a medium where we’d give it away for free
I don’t think any of you could say your go home tonight and flip on the TV and
insert your debit card or credit card and have to pay for the television news
it’s something that for years has existed as a free entity in terms of
what the consumers have to invest in that product but that doesn’t mean
that’s Ken pointed out someone still has to pay the bills someone still has to
make that investment in the news product and we rely on that of course in the
television industry in the form of ratings how many of you are tuning into
our five six ten o’clock news or morning news and then how does that relate to
our advertising dollars that we generate I certainly depend on that I would guess
many of the talented reporters and anchors that we have at KCCI depend on
that to get that paycheck it’s one of the key elements of that equation though
is not just what are we getting in terms of those advertising revenues and
dollars but what are our ratings and that is all determined by you the
consumers how many of you are tuning on to the news at KCCI as compared to wh o
or wi but i don’t think that is our greatest competitor anymore in this
industry it’s whether some of you are going to ought to tune on to the daily
show or reruns of Seinfeld or The Simpsons at 10:00 I mean I shudder to
think that I’m on the news every night and even my own family members are you
know opting to watch everyone Loves Raymond over me I mean please you know
and I think that says a lot about the value of news and whether it be
newspaper magazine television are we providing what the consumer wants and I
think that’s a difficult question to answer in a lot of ways so I see you
know some of those similarities between the choices that news consumers make our
viewers make when turning on the TV or whether they’re opting to pick up the
newspaper in the morning or just wait till they get to the office and click on
the computer and check out the Des Moines Register online New York Times
online because it’s all there for free and I have to admit I’m one of those
people that generally are going to tend to wait until I get to the office
because in the rush of my morning maybe I don’t have time to pick up and
read the paper or it’s just more convenient when I’m sitting there in
front of my desk in the morning to check it out that way as far as our
perspective you know from what I can share with you at KCCI I’m sure it’s the
same for all the television stations in this market we have really put a strong
focus on our news product in terms of what we provide online and on TV there’s
a lot more pressure on us as reporters to be preparing and turning stories
essentially in the field sending it back to the newsroom instantaneously so that
can be put up on our website so people at home or at the office can check that
out and then later check it out on the news we hope at five six or ten but I
think we tried to use the two to really complement the other kcci.com for
example last year averaged about 17 million pageviews per month and I think
keep in mind with that I should also point out that we had a lot of unusual
weather events last year when I was asking my news director you know just
how much are we generating in terms of traffic on our website in terms of
numbers when you have events like the Parkersburg tornado flooding in central
Iowa Eastern Iowa that generates a lot of people to the web and probably
increases those averages but you know we still see a high volume of traffic there
and I don’t think that is an evil thing a lot of the people that are coming on
to KCCI dot-com it’s between 10:00 and 2:00 when they’re at the office when
they’re at work over their lunch break whenever they’re wanting to check out
the news and I think we can use that as a good selling point to say here’s
what’s going on today here’s some of that information but make sure when you
get home tonight tune in at 5:00 tune in at 6:00
ten o’clock whatever it may be or even know myself if I’ve missed the 5 or 6 10
o’clock or 5 or 6 news I can go home after work and then find those stories
right there online not just in a print form but in video form and I think it’s
kind of giving the consumers what they want on demand I don’t think they want
to necessarily wait for the morning newspaper or wait until 10 o’clock
sometimes to up the news if it’s right there at their
fingertips I guess just a couple of other points I would make I mean for us
in TV we’re we’re not seeing the impact necessarily as greatly from the internet
I still think we have a strong number of people who see a value in turning on the
news every night there was a survey I believe back in December by the Pew
Research Center that showed more consumers said yes we are turning to the
Internet I think it was maybe 40 percent more for international national news
stories as compared to the newspaper but what was surprising to me in a sense but
also pleasing in a sense to see was that 70 percent of people said overall we
still go to television as our primary news source but I don’t think that means
I can just sit back here and say well as a television reporter it’s a lot better
for us than if I was in the print medium we all have to be thinking about how do
we take this new world on the internet and continue to evolve it and that takes
both of our roles not only all of you in this room as consumers and also us in
the news business in terms of giving you that value and I think that puts just a
greater responsibility on us as reporters in terms of our role I guess
in kind of closing I really believe that people choose KCC are they choose a news
station or a newspaper because of loyalty because of value and they see a
purpose in picking that up and whether they’re having to pay for it or they’re
getting it for free you know that is the great debate how to eat you know you
balance that but there was an interesting article that I read in the
Des Moines Register I will admit online an online version
today about a restaurant I believe in Urbandale where the owner of this
restaurant struggling to make it in these economic times I think she opened
a restaurant last November and at this point has lost upwards of $20,000 and so
what she’s opted to do is say to the consumer please come and visit my
restaurant enjoy your meal enjoy your stay and at the end of the evening when
I hand you your bill you can write in the dollar value that you feel you need
to pay for this and not one consumer so far has walked
out and not paid the bill they found a value in that in fact I
think she said anywhere from three she’s seen people pay three to fifteen percent
more than what she would have charged them on average for that meal and so I
really that I guess in a way into the question that we’re debating today you
know what kind of value what kind of price tag do you put on the news that
you demand that you expect every day and I think that’s a question we can ask
ourselves as a reporter but you all need to ask yourself as well how much value
do I put in that and what am I willing to pay is it worth it to you know kind
of fill in that receipt at the end of the day and say this is what I’m willing
to pay or am I willing to walk away with it for free why not work why not work
why not work why not work why not work

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