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The Internet Is Killing Local News, Says the FCC 271

Posted by timothy
from the locality-locality-locality dept.
Art3x writes "The rise of the Internet has led to a 'shortage of local, professional, accountability reporting' (Here's the AP's version) says a 475-page report by the FCC, and the consequences could be 'more government waste, more local corruption,' 'less effective schools' and other problems. Even though there are more media choices today than ever, newspapers have been laying off reporters, leaving a gap that is yet to be filled."
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The Internet Is Killing Local News, Says the FCC

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  • Yeah, that's it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:27AM (#36416728) Homepage Journal

    It's not that the majority of local businesses are multinational franchises with no need for local advertising.

  • it is a shame too. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:30AM (#36416736)

    Well, the problem with citizen journalism is that unless you've got enough eyes peering onto your site to somehow support some sort of revenue stream, you're going to be spending half your day at work, the other half doing reporting and you're going to be pretty burnt out from all of it.

    This is the advantage of professional journalists, they get to eat because of their work.

  • by dlcarrol (712729) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:32AM (#36416750)
    I'm sure there's an objective, non-sensationalist, just-the-facts reporter working somewhere, but to pretend that the internet is the reason these jobs are going away is silly. They're going away because the local reporting is, in the main, just as vacuous as national reporting and probably less well-edited. Factor in that with local reporting we're still getting more government waste, more local corruption, and less effective schools with these programs been cheered on by most of those in journalism, and this seems to boil down to "if that fox stops guarding the henhouse ..."

    I agree that the Fourth Estate (right?) is important, but its value is historically overstated, and it is easily co-opted for outright propaganda.
  • Poor newspapers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:36AM (#36416770) Homepage
    Gosh, I'd almost feel sorry for newspapers, if they hadn't ruthlessly used their mainstream media status to advance personal and political agendas, both through their choice of stories to report as well as deliberate omissions ("that's not a story"). Bizarrely, journalists still cling to the "we are heroes and white knights" self-narrative, and still in the year 2011 have not had a heel realization.
  • by garcia (6573) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:37AM (#36416776) Homepage

    Where I live the local news has rarely ever exposed anything. In fact, they gloss over the details, fail to provide links to documentation for the reader to learn for themselves, and use so many quotes from the elected officials or city staff members that no true analysis can be done.

    One professional reporter suggested to me privately that the public, "read between the lines," in order to see what's really being said. While that's great for someone in the know, it doesn't work for 99.9% of the population.

    What has helped are local, non-professional sources who take the time to do what reporters used to do. Researching documents, providing them to the public and going back to school to have an even better understanding of how local government is supposed to work.

    While I don't want to toot my own horn or even step on the toes of the pros, the work I do actually does expose the issues in local government and shows their general incompetence when compared to how they are supposed to act.

    I am going to school for Public Administration, I use my skills as a data analyst to provide crime dashboards to aggregate data, and I post public documents requested and researched for MONTHS so that the public can ignore my own analysis and do their own if they so choose.

    The rise of the Internet has done nothing to change the business model of the print papers. They're still pushing out 500 word blurbs of city council meetings instead of 1000+ word analyses. They are the ones at fault here, not the Internet and shame on the FCC for stating anything else.

  • by andy1307 (656570) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:38AM (#36416780)
    FCC approved media consolidation had nothing to do with this?
  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki.cox@net> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:40AM (#36416788)

    Three names.

    Andrew Breitbart, Matt Drudge, Markos M... well, no, Kos is pretty critical regardless of party uh... Arianna Huffington? Yeah, the site promotes alt-med quackery that those on my side of the isle quite love for some bizarre reason, so that's the ticket.

    You get the point. It doesn't matter if you're pro or not, you can still be an empty shill who stumps endlessly for whatever brain dead point of view you want.

    The question of quality in media isn't a matter of whether or not they're professional or not. I mean, Shephard Smith works deep in the bowels of Fox News, but, despite any leanings he has, he's fair enough that this liberal's willing to respect him.

  • Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:44AM (#36416794)

    I stopped watching the news many years ago and never did get a paper. It wasn't because of the Internet. It was because I got tired of hearing nothing but trivial, shallow, or sensationalistic crap. I don't care who slept with whom and soundbites don't do anything any good. Plus, since I live in an area with many connected cities, invariably the remaining content usually didn't apply to my locality, anyway.

    Quite frankly, the national news isn't much better in many ways. To me, the fact that there was some conflict in the Middle East is simply not news, it is life. Yes, gas prices are high. Republicans did X and Democrats did Y. Some other bill just passed that either raises taxes, takes away state's rights, stomps on the Constitution, or takes away citizens' personal liberty.

    I hope that doesn't make me irresponsible. I do try to stay informed. And usually the things that do matter somehow reach me. I am just burned out from negativity, information overload, and feeling completely apathetic about government in general.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:00AM (#36416868)

    Well, the problem with citizen journalism is that unless you've got enough eyes peering onto your site to somehow support some sort of revenue stream, you're going to be spending half your day at work, the other half doing reporting and you're going to be pretty burnt out from all of it.

    This is the advantage of professional journalists, they get to eat because of their work.

    They gave up a long time ago, and now they're paying the price. Rather that doing journalism like a profession, they went for the lazy option and reduced news to celebrity gossip, and even using forum posts and twitter as items within their pointless articles. Tough titties, these "journalist" are getting exactly what the deserve.

  • by garcia (6573) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:12AM (#36416914) Homepage

    Depends on the source and it depends on how they present it.

    I take great time to fact check, ensure human sources are valid and have proof of their whistleblowing, and provide all documentation procured from the agencies as evidence.

    Just because some bloggers don't, doesn't mean that signal to noise ratio is high, it just means you aren't paying attention to the right sources.

    ----

    As for making money and burning out. Yeah, it sucks. My site makes some money (and rarely any from political posts) but I don't do it for that. I do it because I enjoy the topic, I enjoy doing data analysis, and I like having a hobby.

    YMMV.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:36AM (#36417012)

    Do you remember the mainstream media's lead-up to the War in Iraq? WHERE THE FUCK WAS THE FACT-CHECKING THERE? Everyone else in the world could tell that you Americans were being fed one piece of bullshit after another. Hell, even a lot of Americans knew they were getting nuggets of crap. Basically everything that was claimed about Iraq and Saddam turned out to be incorrect. So I'll ask again, WHERE THE FUCK WAS THE FACT-CHECKING THERE?

  • Re:475 Page (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:47AM (#36417064) Homepage

    It's not a waste, since that's not the results of the report. Let me help out.

    How the Internet Has Improved Journalism --- Greater Depth Improved Quality of Commentary and Analysis Enabling Citizen Engagement Speed and Ease Expanding Hyperlocal Coverage Serving Highly Specific Interests Cheaper Content Distribution Cheaper Content Creation Direct Access to Community and Civic News

    Sound different from TFS?

    Yep. Same report. Time to fork slashdot to make it less inflammatory. They took the only concern, "lack of clarity how well trained bloggers are" and made it into a siren favoring Big Media.

    Time to insert a Bill Hicks quote - I'll leave it to those with brains to work out the relevance to TFA:-

    By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root. I don't know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there's no rationalisation for what you do, and you are Satan's little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You're the ruiner of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. "There's gonna be a joke coming..." There's no fucking joke coming, you are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it's the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.

    "You know what Bill's doing now, he's going for the righteous indignation dollar, that's a big dollar, a lot of people are feeling that indignation, we've done research, huge market. He's doing a good thing." Godammit, I'm not doing that, you scumbags, quit putting a godamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

  • No, It's Not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DakotaSmith (937647) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:14AM (#36417158) Homepage

    What's killing all press (from local to world) isn't the Internet -- the Internet is just what's replacing the press.

    What's killing the press is that the industry is laced from top to bottom with ignorant Statists capable of neither investigating nor reporting accurately on the events of the day. Almost every news story in existence originates with some Google search by a flunky desperately seeking something for the talking head to say so as to keep butts in the seats and hands off the remotes.

    Amazingly, the entire industry is so insular and elitist that is neither capable of seeing its own obvious incompetence nor or recognizing the truth about their entire industry:

    That is now nothing more than a batch of scandal sheets and hack-rags, and its former customers are starting to figure that out. Result: they're no longer buying what the press is selling -- because the press is selling total bullshit.

    For thirty years, I've made a hobby of de-bunking the press. In the age of the Internet, give me any press story, Google, and fifteen minutes, and I can usually prove that the story never occurred in reality. There's typically a kernel of truth, but it will have been sensationalized and transformed to the point where it bears only a tangential relationship to reality.

    Mark this and mark it well: the world beyond your immediate experience isn't what you think it is. Do not assume that anything the press reports is accurate -- in fact, it's a good bed that every report is made up of almost whole cloth.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:33AM (#36417254)

    They gave up a long time ago, and now they're paying the price

    So if there was a quality newspaper in your jurisdiction doing hard reporting and research, employing professionals earning a good salary, you'd subscribe to it? You'd pay, I dunno, $300 per year for this newspaper? And all your friends would too?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @11:35AM (#36417616)

    On the other hand, a citizen journalist is going to be less careful about sources and fact checking. The citizen journalist is going to blog their suspicions and air unfounded allegations.

    Perhaps you missed all the "mainstream" media coverage of Palin last week. She said something about Paul Revere, which was easy enough to look up, and they all blasted her for being an idiot and getting the story wrong (This includes the "perfect" NPR as well). Once they began their follow ups the next day with experts to corroborate how stupid Palin is the experts all told the media Palin was right.

    You seem to think professional journalists fact check when they can't be bothered when smearing women in politics, or blacks in the GOP either.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @11:45AM (#36417714) Homepage Journal


    So if there was a quality newspaper in your jurisdiction doing hard reporting and research

    I'm 55. I'm also a voracious reader. I've read many, many US newspapers, certainly all the really big ones -- and I've never seen such a thing. What I see are papers that won't address the real issues, papers that kowtow to the superstitious, papers that throw up "the other side" even when there's absolutely no facts on the ground supporting the other side, etc.

    Newspapers have a conflict of interest: They have to make money; and in order to make money, they have to leave a very large number of readers content with what they've read. So they can't honestly address political corruption, unjust wars, affronts to liberty, superstition, the fact that the legal system has devolved to corporate and moneyed-group serving process, and no longer even pretends to implement justice for the citizens at any level... I could go on, but the point is made: newspapers are pap-filled rags written for the lowest common denominator in their audience.

    A blogger doesn't have to be dependent upon how many people read. zero, one or a thousand, it's all the same. So they can -- and do -- say whatever they think. Then we, as netizens, simply find the ones that are thinking clearly. The difference is that there are actually things worth reading on the net. In newspapers... not so much. I can point you to quite a few blogs where the reading is interesting, informative, pertinent, and well thought out, and few, if any, subjects are "off the table." I can't point you to even one newspaper where the same is true.

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