Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Needed: A Newspaper War

What does it say about a newspaper that runs a misleading story about firing its own editor? 1. That it can't be trusted. 2. Its competition will have the story first. Ever since the Palo Alto Daily News came on the scene the rival Palo Alto Weekly has seen fit to play mischief with the daily paper. Sure it's fun. But wouldn't we want to have a blog war between insiders.

Concern over the loss of one of the two primary newspapers in the Bay Area centered around the loss of other voices. Catch that; not other opinions, or other points of view, but other voices. Decoded it means more people writing copy. The fact of the matter is reading either the Mercury News or the SF Chronicle will give you the same narrow range of thought. Name an issue on which either disagrees. Plus, neither paper had much of a readership outside their respective hometowns.

When San Francisco was a two paper town--I don't go any farther back than two--a healthy level of sniping took place between the Examiner and the Chronicle, which seemed to have no greater impact than liven up a dull news product. Now we have Brad Kava and whole sections devoted to wine that induce the same level of torpor.

Dueling news organizations where there is no decernable difference are of no concern to the average consumer. Whether there is any difference between ABC, NBC or CBS I'll leave to the reader since I'm not in the habit of watching any of them. However, competition between CNN and Fox News does lead to arguably more news because it comes from different perspectives. No such fighting over ideas exists in the Bay Area except as it relates to fighting to get disinterested people to read the product.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, your point was what again? I think I missed it, again.

I wouldn't expect the DN to come out and say it canned its editor. That would be poor taste (maybe, even, a lawsuit?).

Also, I'm kinda surprised to see Diamond dishing to the competition (make that, former competition -- no honor among that brand o' thieves?). I hardly suspect we're getting the complete story here.

Kinda fun, though. All this drama in our backyard. Like a real, living, breathing soap opera, eh?

3:51 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Those who publish critiques about the lack of transparency in others should expect the inevitable comparison. Exactly how is a news organization enhanced by telling half the story when it knows the full story will be told by their competition? A sudden announcement about a new editor brought with it a noticable lack of candor.

Weeks before the news filtered out in the Mercury News about the impending sale of Knight Ridder, you could read about it online from its former business manager Lou Alexander. You can bet people writing for the business section knew it too. They may have their reasons for not wanting to publish it, but their readers have no such need.

When word gets out that that the bread at your local store is stale its hardly surprising that the store will lose customers.

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Palo Alto isn't well served by either paper. The Weekly has always been the City Hall mouthpiece, probably due to the fact that it gets the lion's share of the city's advertising and doesn't want to make waves. The Daily has always been scrappier (is that a word?), digging out stories others do not want told. The nice thing about the Daily was that, every day, you could always find a story that you didn't expect -- something new or odd about our town. The paper had its ups and downs, but it became a comfortable read over the years. Sure, Dave Price's editorials were over-the-top at times, and Diana Diamond might have been too tough on teachers, but they had passion and weren't afraid to rock the boat. As readers flocked to the Daily, all the Weekly could do is snipe at its competitor. The Weekly gave no thought toward improving its own product. The Dailiy stayed above the fray except for that cartoon of LaDoris walking her dog. LOL! Anyway, all good things must come to an end, and with the sale of the Daily, you could feel the paper becoming less personal and quirky every day. Pretty soon it will look like the "Merc Jr." (If Palo Altans wanted to read the Merc, the Daily wouldn't have had a chance.) Palo Alto needs its own voice again. Not the Weekly, which seems to be the Voice of City Hall. Maybe somebody will come along and start a paper that wins awards for stories about rodents that catch fire.

10:18 AM  

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