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Jim Hightower
Other Words / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 2 January 2013
The Orange County Register is defying conventional wisdom by offering readers more and better coverage to boost business.

A Newsworthy Investment

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Let us address the declining fortunes of today’s mainstream mass media.

(Yes, I can hear your pained screams of “Nooooo…we don’t want to!” However, we really must, because it’s not about them, but us — about our ability to be at least quasi-informed about who’s-doing-what-to-whom-and-why, in order for us to be a self-governing people. So buckle up, here we go.)

The honchos of America’s newspaper establishment are quick to blame the Internet for their loss of readers, not noticing that their own product has fallen victim to conventional wisdomitis. This affliction leaves them printing little more than the contrived “wisdom” of the corporate powers. It’s not a big selling point with readers.

Ironically, this narrow perspective not only saps their sense of what’s “news,” but also their business sense. For example, with readership declining, the accepted industry response by owners and publishers is to fire beat reporters, shrink the news hole, reduce reporting to rewrites of wire service articles, and run hokey PR campaigns hyping the shriveled product as “Real News.”

But here’s some real news they might want to consider: the new owners of theOrange County Register are blazing a contrarian path toward reviving their paper’s prosperity. Editor Ken Brusic notes that offering less to subscribers and charging more not only is a ripoff and an insult to readers, but a sure path to failure. “So,” he says, “we’re now offering more,” expanding the Register’s newsroom, its coverage, and the paper’s size.

Gosh — hire real watchdog reporters, dig out real news, and make the paper relevant to local readers — what a novel notion for a news business! Of course, the conventional wisdomites are sneering at this unorthodox approach. “It’s not what most people are doing,” said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at the Poynter Institute.

Exactly — and that’s why it’s so promising.

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ABOUT Jim Hightower
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

jackwenayscott's picture

Television and internet video

Television and internet video is killing the newspaper business. Bertold Brecht noticed that smoking cigarettes during a theatre performance (which he reccommended) makes the audience member more critical and intellectual. Read it yourself in "Epic Theatre"! And that's not all, for their show-business reasons, which is a gullible, suggestible, sedated audience, the L.A. entertainment giants like certain things and hate certain things. They hate cigarettes, it's obvious, they hate Solar Panels, they rarely show 'em, they NEED newspapers to go under, the newspapers are going under. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets! "D#mn Yankees" circa 1960, in which the Devil LOST, less than 10 years later the conversion was nearly complete and in "Rosemary's Baby" the Devil WINS, then 10 years after that they install an actor as President, how much power do you need? Enough to overule the goodness and strength of ordinary citizens, and as long as the citizens swallow down TV, they're gonna remain powerless!

. . . "A Newsworthy

. . . "A Newsworthy Investment"
the Congress of the United States allows expects service - BUT NEVER LEAVE A TIP

Something just popped into my

Something just popped into my mind. The Tea Bag austerity dogs have been telling us that we need to cut spending, shrink government to get out of debt for years now. Well Newspapers have been doing this for decades and we can all see the results. Except for a couple of columnists, the Sports page (GO HEAT) and the comics/puzzle page, the only use I have for the local newspaper is as a liner for our dinner trays as we watch, no not news on TV, MASH on the TV. I remember a time we would watch the news at dinner time, and stay up for the news at 11. The news coverage of Vietnam was one of the reasons the nation finally turned against that sad excuse for a war. Where is that coverage today? On line at Truthout, Nation of Change, or Mother Jones, not in your daily newspaper.

I will still go to the paper.

I will still go to the paper. But mostly for the sports. It's the only real reporting being done, it is usually the most creative pieces and better written generally. Actual "news" is frequently not well covered and the pieces come off like a print version of the short-attention-span-theater that constitutes the local TV news..... soundbites in print. The more you read, the less you know. Too bad. I prefer the paper as a source and I still need to line the cat's litter box. What will I do now?

Oh, so true. Why newspapers

Oh, so true. Why newspapers feel they have to compete with TV/cable news is a mystery to me. I personally get tired of the same "breaking news" story that breaks every hour on CNN. Will someone please clean up the broken news so it at least does not break again the following day! Our newspaper here is owned by the New York Times, as is the Boston Globe. National and international news virtually the same in each. They maintain separate editorial offices, but have yet to find a way to offer local news. The Worcester Telegram & Gazette tried "regional" inserts, which didn't seem to work too well. The price keeps going up. The latest trick is that if you subscribe, your subscription continues after the term you paid for. It's in the contract! If you want to renew your subscription, you have to pay for all the back issues you received but did not pay for.

Maybe someone needs to teach the T&G the elementary economic fact that sales decrease as the price increases.

. . . censorship is alive and

. . . censorship is alive and well - - oops I guess I shouldn't say that
Your comment is awaiting moderation. -- - - or....your comment in pending moderartion - or your comment is awaiting approval of the blog owner...- or please try again late we are experiencing technial difficilties ( which still aren't fixed two days later after many, many more comments)
Or go back fiftenn pages and can't find your comment
you want to take your pick ?? NYTIMES ?? AOL ??? ABA JUORNAL ???
NEWSVINE ??? pick one / pick all

C E N S O R S H I P . . . . .
My comments are pointed - yes.....colorful.. yes.....rude - tacky - tasteless, and generally make my point in no uncertain terms
I do not yell fire in a crowded theather. . I am careful about slander . . . and much of my comments come under protected speech - - - NONE ARE POLITICALLY CORRECT - - - Gee, I missed crude......

Firing reporters, shrinking

Firing reporters, shrinking real news & running hokey contests & promotions is exactly what our local paper has done. Letters to the editor & on-line opinion polls on subjects suggested by readers is what passes for editorial commentary. Such things have their place but don't substitute for pieces written by columnists & editors who, we can usually assume, have vetted their information. The front page is almost always used to showcase the most recent crisis du jour of the Philadelphia Eagles or some other sports entity. Real news, if present at all, is buried on page 5 or deeper in the paper. Oh, let's not forget the Bethlehem casinos or the new hockey rink being built in Allentown's center city. Those subjects, too, are more likely to make the front page than national or international news. And then there's celebrity news ... The management at our local paper, The Morning Call, actually boasted that the "improved" paper had 25% less news! Dumb!

And it's not just the newspapers. Real news, especially anything in-depth or thought-provoking, n all media is declining. My daughter says she now turns to BBC to find out what's really happening here. Probably a pretty good idea.

I've always liked Hightower's

I've always liked Hightower's style and humour as he makes his point which makes reading his pieces enjoyable. The print media has gone the same way as television news and have become the unacceptable propaganda tool of the corporatocracy. The internet has many more sources of opinion that can be cross referenced to enable a reader to discern where the truth probably lays. The mainstream has abandoned it's fifth estate role as an independent provider of factual news so vital to a properly functioning democracy to become the barking dogs of their corporate masters to such an extent that they have become, in all, irrelevant. So many times I can't count I have read the mainstream print media's story lines and laughed at what they were trying to pass off as a factual accounting when after reading actual verifiable reporting on the internet you would think the newspapers were running just short of lying to the public. The actual factual pieces in a paper are in such a small percentage to the paper as a whole they are no longer worth their cost. As for mainstream tele news I quit watching the crap they peddle a long time ago as being so much planted misinformation. I mean have you ever heard or seen in print by the mainstream that the Syrian Free Army, backed by America, is mainly made up of foreign nationals (many from Western labelled "terrorist organizations") recruited from across the Middle East (Benghazi etc.) for the service of the imperial agenda of regime change and the Balkanization of Syria into three weak states? I can bet dollars to doughnuts on what you've been able to ascertain from the mainstream....I'd rather contribute to Nation of Change once in awhile to read the writings of Hightower and colleagues than ever pay for a subscription on something I wouldn't read.

My wife and I find articles

My wife and I find articles in the "front page" section of our local paper that we read three and sometimes four days before on the internet. Then the articles are generally "edited" to allow room for more advertising, which is what most "dailies" have become..."shopping flyers." Our opinion page is "heavily" biased towards the right, which comes as no surprise since the parent owner is The Wall Street Journal which in turn is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Before the ownership change I had at least two letters printed, minimally edited, per month for over 15 years. Now, I'm "lucky" to get "one" highly redacted piece printed every three months. Two-thirds of the front page now consists of a "human interest" story, a few ads, and a couple of thin columns of "news." At age 56 I actually "prefer" newspapers. But as they morph into "advertising flyers' and opinion dominated "news items" the only real value ours has is litter box lining.

Now if you could just

Now if you could just convince LA Times of this wisdom and prevent the Murdoch takeover of our diminishing newspaper.

I haven't quit reading

I haven't quit reading newspapers; newspapers have less in them that's worth reading. By my not-so-scientific estimate, at least two-thirds of the content is advertising. And so mush of what is being passed off as news is so colored by the author's bias, it's increasingly difficult to figure out what is realy going on. Leave the editorializing on the Op-Ed page!

There are some "old"

There are some "old" newsworthy items that have been sitting on the shelves of antiguity for many years, but representing major historic and political events. These events were reported on with the then available evidence. Today, with sophisticated, computerized sound and film analysis
equipment, and witness testimony as well as vastly greater documentation
from those times, that render verdicts, if they were to be honestly looked at
and analyzed, would produce far different legal outcomes which would obviate those who sought to maintain official secrecy.

The public loves a good conspiracy, especially when those doing the investigating and subsequent reporting find clear evidence that officials in power, at whatever level of "government" they operated from, provably lied
to the American people. One such event that always produces a high level of public interest is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, one of the
most loved presidents in modern US history.

The story that the government, mainly the FBI and CIA, have worked hardest to suppress, is that of James Earl Files. See Tie-in: Dick Clark had tried to cooperate with
private investigators to get Jimmy's story out, but the CIA used it's media assets to put his story down. I say, when readers need something good to read, go after the stories that have not yet been solved. Old becomes new when that is done.

"...printing little more than

"...printing little more than the contrived “wisdom” of the corporate powers." That's precisely the problem! I didn't stop reading newspapers because of the Internet. I stopped because of the quality of the reporting and sheer predictability of the spin put on any issue. I stopped reading when I realized how much is actually left out of news/political reporting for the purpose of "guiding" public opinion.

Catering to politics - - -

Catering to politics - - - all the news that's fit to print - IS NO LONGER PRINTED.....

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