Pat Thornton at The Journalism Iconoclast reacts to Anil Dash’s post about TriCityNews. Dash, you may recall, wonders whether the alt weekly is really a “news”paper at all or just an adspace. Thornton agrees with Dash and chides the New York Times article’s author, David Carr, for “not proving that the triCityNews serves its community well.” He goes on:
Most people in a community aren’t advertisers, and they are served by quality editorial content. Maybe the triCityNews is a fantastic editorial product, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
But, as commenter Michael Josefowicz on Thornton’s post points out:
if you follow the money, wouldn’t most business people at most newspapers agree with “I don’t want anything that detracts from the paper and the presence of those big, beautiful full-page ads” and “business sense” and “running lean” and keeping advertisers happy.
Bloggers out there are harping on the TriCityNews’s publisher for being proud of his big, full-page ads and for not mentioning his journalistic content, but when we really get down to it, aren’t all newspaper businesses equally in love with their ads and their advertisers? Ads, after all, do pay the majority of a newspaper’s bills. Why should the journalism idealists out there exhibit the TriCityNews as an example of greediness or of not serving a community need when it’s basically operating under the same business principles as the big guys?
All of this really turns on Carr, who didn’t give his readers a crystal clear vision of what the TriCityNews publishes on the news side of the aisle. Perhaps he and the publisher talked at length about the paper’s journalism, but Carr did not include that in his story, and so we must speculate.
I suppose it’s good that the industry’s still strong enough to reject a story that offers a glimmer of hope because it’s lacking a few details. When the journalists start accepting any story of hope without questioning it, then you know the industry is in deep trouble.