Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Maybe if the Mailbox was updating a tad more regularly, it would have caught this story when it came out. Mea culpa.

A USAToday report says that teens get their news from TV and the Internet. Half of all high school students get news online at least once a week, but teens rate TV as the easiest news source to use. And the most accurate.

No offense to the Mailbox’s TV bretheren, but that is absolutely blood-curdling. Most accurate? Oy vey.

The Mailbox has bemoaned TV news before. A huge, two-minute TV news feature when typed out is only 300-400 words. That’s about 9 or 10 inches of news copy. Wally Kennedy’s outstanding, informative story on the Memorial shooting measured in at more than 50 inches. And his story gives a much more vivid picture of the events than showing the school’s sign for 10 seconds. And when was the last time you saw TV news issue a correction?

ANYWAY...the study, done by the Future of the First Amendment (a research project of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) says that newspapers do play a part...or their Web sites do. 21 percent get weekly news from national newspaper sites, while 66 percent use sites such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! or AOL. Those sites make thorough use of the Associated Press.

The newspaper industry still has a lot going for it, despite the proliferation of the Internet. Yet, newspaper publishers are still flummoxed about the best way to move into the Internet age. Newspaper sites have the printed word going for them, however, so a continuation of that might help snag future readers. So, the best thing to do would be to hire more reporters and have them post their stories to the Web site, right?

The Mailbox is hearing about several short-staffed newspapers in the Ozarks giving their reporters video cameras and filing TV-style reports on the Internet.

Oy vey the sequel.

Despite it’s e-savvy and affinity for the latest tech, the Mailbox thinks that is a colossally bad idea. Nothing good can come from taking perfectly good newspaper reporters and changing them into TV reporters. The Mailbox is a big fan of Wally Kennedy's reporting, but has no desire to see his face talking about the news.

Though it hates to recognize it, the Mailbox sees a day when newspapers are artifacts. But even on the Internet, a byline means something. If newspapers don’t want to find themselves going the way of their product, they will concentrate on making their written words as strong and reliable as possible. As for snagging younger readers...if those young readers care about their community, then they will search for a local news source. There’s no need for newspapers to panic and do stupid things.

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