THURSDAY’S LETTERS: Liberals’ Double-Standard, Paying for Online Bells and Whistles

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters a reader asks why negative Iraq stories must be at the top of the media agenda, another says Steve outing’s column is right on (except that he forgot to explain how to pay for all the online bells and whistles he recommends), and a reader is amazed at editor Greg Mitchell’s ability to accomplish so much with his time.

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If It Bleeds, Ought It Not Be Leading?

For as long as I can remember, establishment media commentators have poured scorn on local television news. The principal complaint boils down to “not enough political coverage, too much crime coverage.” The mantra “If it bleeds, it leads” is frequently — and contemptuously — flung at local TV news. It is possible that E&P has featured this sort of criticism, either in passing or as the focus of the critique of local news.

The criticism has almost always been voiced by implicitly liberal critics. (The recent study criticizing local TV news for lack of political coverage was substantially the product of one of those ‘Public Interest Research Groups’, I believe, which I associate with Ralph Nader’s empire.) But when it comes to news from Iraq, the drumbeat seems to be “If it bleeds, it ought to be leading.”

Forgive me if I surmise that the reason for the dual standard has to do with politics rather than any general principle. Reporting of local crime is usually presented without any “political” context and encourages the ordinary viewer, who lives in the vicinity of the crime, to take a more vigilant approach to personal defense and police protection; these tend to be conservative-friendly issues. Presenting the violent realities of the war in Iraq is supposed to induce an anti-war, anti-Administration sensibility in the viewer. I’d at least appreciate it if someone could explain to me why graphic reporting on violence in my immediate neighborhood is mediocre journalism, whereas graphic footage from Iraq is confronting viewers with in-your-face reality and thus good journalism.

Mark Richard
Columbus, Ohio

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How Is Easy, Paying for It Is Hard

Steve Outing says in his October 24 column that “if newspapers want to remain relevant in the Internet age, they’ve got to figure out how to be useful when a community desperately needs information.”

We’ve all seen these opportunities to cover the news. But, the only way to pay for this kind of service is with online subscriptions. The most successful web advertising is done in some kind of context. There are few products and services that can be marketed in context to the news.

We know how. We don’t know how to pay for it.

Charles Batchelor
Midlothian, Va.

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He’s Mastered the Fine Art of Multitasking

Okay, okay, we get the picture. [Greg Mitchell is] thoroughly bummed out over Mr. Saddam Hussein’s early retirement. [He’s] entitled to [his] goofball opinions. But considering [his] maniacal obsession with this topic, one has to wonder how you possibly find time to do your actual job, which supposedly is “editor” of “America’s Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry?”

J.A. Marrit

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