Former editor at Canton Repository speaks out against planned change at Stark, Tuscarawas newspapers
Friday’s communications column, which included a leaked memo which detailed plans to consolidate copy desks at GateHouse Media newspapers, and according to sources include newspapers in Ohio, including The Canton Repository, Massillon Independent and Dover-New Philadelphia Times-Reporter, has stirred a lot of comment.
In case you missed it, here’s a comment left by Rick Senften, a former editor at The Repository. His words follow in italics.
I learned about this idea/plan a month ago and was dumbstruck. Such a move would strongly suggest (or, perhaps, prove) the company holds its audience in total disregard and that it knows too little about a news organization’s role in a community. It would be a move designed entirely for the company’s financial benefit, not the informational/educational benefit of people who have remained loyal to the publications and count on well-sourced reporting to understand the day’s events and make good decisions.
A publication that deems itself the community’s news source — and that would just about any publication that aims to serve people well — has an ethical duty to do everything possible to ensure that standard is met, both in completeness and accuracy of coverage. It must conduct its journalism with reporters and editors who are knowledgeable about the community — its history, culture, values, social order, politics, commerce and all the seemingly little things, like street names and who’s who. “Seemingly,” I say, because those “little things” will be the first things people notice are wrong, the ones that will cause them to throw up their hands and demand: “What is wrong with these people?”
When readers figure out they knows more about the community than the newspaper does, why buy it? It has no credibility. And why? Because the people who are editing it live two states away and, maybe, have never been here. Or, seemingly.
Absolutely no argument exists to support this as good journalism or good community service; I doubt that, in the long run, it’s even good for business. All in all, it’s a really bad idea.
What do you think?
Posted on January 22, 2012, in Personal blog and tagged Canton Repository, Chris Pugh, community journalism, Dover-New Philadelphia Times-Reporter, editor, journalism, Massillon Independent, Rick Senften, View From The Pugh. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.