Friday, August 08, 2008

eye on the media

Just my two cents, but it seems to me that the media has a hard time reporting on itself. Makes sense especially in local markets where reporting on a media outlet means reporting either on your employer or colleagues most of the time. Even nationally I wonder whether news organizations are a bit gunshy to report on their competitors as much as they would firms and events in other industries.

OK.. long preamble and this may not be news in itself. But has there been an awful lot of turnover in local print media of late. Granted this may be par for the course and I may be misperceiving things a bit, but wither the career journalist?

Take the world I operate in mostly which is covered by the biz reporters in town. At the PG if you go back 5 years and look at the reporters they had assigned doing full time business reporting, a lot have moved on. I was already thinking about this before I learned that longtime biz reporter Dan F. over at the PG has recently moved on to the Wall Street Journal1. But it's more than just him. A few years ago the biz reporters included among others: Jim M., Pam G., Stephanie F., Corilyn S. each of which have moved on. And not to limit this just to the PG, other biz reporters that have moved on include Mike Y at the Trib, and to keep this a regional post even Stephanie W. who was the Biz editor at the Beaver County Times have all moved on. Some have moved to other jobs in journalism, but many have left the biz in some form. Many seem to go into the PR world. Others into new things altogether.

Again, this may all just be misperception on my part and I will be the first to say I don't study media labor markets. Maybe this much turnover is more normal than not. I also could be wrong that this has focused more on the business staffs than other beats though there has been turnover all around. Maybe it makes sense given that biz reporting is taking some of the brunt of changes. It was in the Trib that it was reported how the PG has eliminated its Monday business section. In the big picture, maybe the Internet is more apt to replace coverage of business content than other subjects. Maybe its the leading edge of bigger changes to come? I dunno.
(1) The WSJ seems to have put him to work right away. I bet he will work his way from page C3 to A1 pretty quick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wither indeed! Better hope there aren't too many journalists reading this post, or your comments section might blow up (see voyforum's Pittsburgh Media Scoops and Gossip, and another on Pgh. TV and radio, for commentary ad nauseum on the local news biz.)

In a nutshell, the Trib has always been a revolving door, on all beats, that appears to be turning a little more slowly these days, while PG turnover has jumped in the past few years due largely to the paper's financial plight and attendant job uncertainty.

Generally speaking, it's common practice for reporters to change beats every so often, the argument being that you get stale and too close to your official sources after a while, leading to a lack of objectivity. On the other hand, longevity can lead to deep knowledge of a subject, which can't hurt, but with news space shrinking almost daily, reporters with chops don't get much room to show off.

Friday, August 08, 2008 11:08:00 AM  

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