Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Blade - Dinosaur or Weasel



There has been talk for a number of years that the daily newspaper was dinosaur, on its last leg as a viable news source ... and as a business. The internet had grown stronger in recent years as a alternative to it; and with the growth of high speed internet, download speeds had increased to a point where pictures and pages of data could be viewed in real time. With the recent introduction of the Ipad (and soon the competing unit from Google) even the issue of portability and convenience will no longer be an issue. The were only a couple of real questions left to daily newspaper organizations as their printing presses wind gradually down to a stop:
  • Will some part of these corporations survive, utilizing their ability to gather news while finding a way to use the web in some way as both revenue source and distribution mode?
  • More importantly, as these final days wind themselves down, with what dignity will these ancient and venerable businesses be able to end their days?
The local example in Toledo, the Blade, has made this question even more confusing in recent days with the behavior of its reporter Tom Troy, its editors, and the publication of a story based on some notes belonging to Jeff Simpson (one of two men claiming to head the Lucas County Republican Party). I won't go into the details of the story, since the entire affair seems too tawdry and distasteful to spend much time on. Anyone who is not aware of the story however, can read it here (from the Blade itself) and get additional information from a postings on from Glass City Jungle and Thurber's Thoughts. The issues that I would like to deal with here however are more fundamental:
  • Since the Blade has long been a newspaper supporting Democratic candidates, why didn't they make greater efforts to show at least a perception of neutrality in news coverage of an internal Republican issue?
  • Once discovering that they possessed Mr Simpson's property, and having been asked for its return by him in a face-to-face meeting, why did they not do so? (Even if they chose to make a copy of such property for their own record and for the purposes of the story.)
  • For the record, we might also want to ask why Mr. Simpson (a lawyer) didn't make a greater effort to gain the return of his property once he discovered it was in the possession of the newspaper.
  • Knowing of the personal relationship between the publisher (John Robinson Block) of the Blade and the other person claiming to be head of the LCRP (Jon Stainbrook), why didn't they take greater pains to try and show strict journalistic integrity in its treatment of the parties involved?
  • If this story were of such great import and these notes so important, why was it that the story was published on a Saturday, traditionally the least read newspaper of the week?
  • Maybe most importantly ... Would there have been a story here at all if this were about the publisher's friend (a person long known for Machiavellian plots and regular use of the legal system) and not Mr Simpson?
This is not to say that the Blade does not have the right to write stories about any subject that it chooses. It is however to say that in these delicate times for newspapers, that they might have attempted to be even more careful in maintaining the highest form of journalistic integrity in covering this story. Similarly, with the reputation that the Blade continues to gather for confusing the journalistic and editorial aspects of its efforts; perhaps they might have done a better job with this story for themselves and for their diminishing readership. 


This effort by the Blade does nothing to enhance its own reputation, that of the daily newspaper, or that of Toledo. It does however, beg a question of daily newspapers in general, and the Blade in particular. Will they choose to go out gracefully as yet one more example of the dinosaurs that most daily newspapers in this country have become, or like the thief and rodent that they appear to have become in this instance ... a weasel?



3 comments:

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...

Tim,

For years I have had cause to question the morals/ethics and motives of the daily loco and all of those associated with it, but no more.

With this latest episode involving Mr. Simpson's “missing” notebook, They have made their true nature and real intentions clear enough for even the staunchest of Blah/Bland apologists impossible to defend nor deny.

IMNHO Tom Troy, his editor(s), and the alleged publisher, JRB (the absentee “puppet master” and supposedly “moral conscience”) of this rag, by their actions have proven to be far worse than weasels, they have clearly demonstrated that they all are without anything even vaguely resembling morals/ethics.

I say that they are all without honor, and therefore without any redeeming worth/value; so it matters not whether the Blah/Bland survives or fades out gracefully like the dinosaurs, to me they are already dead, for what is life without personal/corporate honor?

I leave it to someone else to write the Blah/Bland's epitaph, if there is someone left who still gives a damn. . .

Referring to them as weasels, to me, is far more praise than they deserve.

It is reporters and publishers that give used car salesmen a good name.

Tim Higgins said...

Dave,

You may be right in your assessment of the Blade, and perhaps I was a bit soft on them. I too questioned calling them dinosaurs and weasels, but weasel has multiple definitions.

Dinosaurs at least have the advantage of being extinct, and can therefore not complain about such comparisons.

I can say however, that no actual weasels were hurt in the writing of my posting.

James said...

I have a gut feeling that we can expect a long-wided essay from the dauily's ombudsman on this story, perhaps this coming Sunday. And he will defend the paper's motives, intentions, etc., to its hopefully soon death.