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What’s At Stake With Newspapers

In the wake of the Oregon Daily Emerald strike, I’ve heard a lot of people on campus say that it was little more than a publicity stunt. I’ve even been asked if I regret supporting the strike. The short answer is no.

Even if the methods and process of the strike were a little dubious, which even some of the ODE staffers will admit, I still support the decision because I think independent newspapers are a vital public service. Believe it or not, all of these “obsolete” newspapers still act as a powerful check on government, and student governments and college administrations would like nothing more than to be free of them.

For example, the faculty adviser of the student newspaper at Clark College was mysteriously denied tenure after she pushed the paper to do more critical reporting on the administration. (She also fought the administration’s desire to pre-screen articles.)

Or there is there is the ongoing battle at Montclair State between the paper and the student government. The paper is currently suing the student government for breaking public meeting law. Last year, the student government froze the paper’s budget during a battle over the government’s decidedly odd habit of meeting in private.

OR take Western Oregon University for another example. WOU fired a faculty newspaper adviser and disciplined a student journalist after the daily paper revealed a serious privacy flaw in WOU’s computer system.

These are all examples from college papers, but this happens at every level. David Simon, creator of The Wire, recently wrote an article about how the city of Baltimore is running ramshod over public record laws in lieu of an aggressive newspaper presence.

Which is why I can’t fathom why some technophiles and bloggers are gleeful about the death of newspapers. I mean, if you like your government to do whatever it pleases without oversight or accountability, by all means, throw a party because the future’s looking great.

  1. Johnny Delashaw says:

    Ossie-

    You are part of the liberal media! You own a paper in the NW! No I’m just kidding, but I’m waiting for a good Brandon Roy interview to come out soon in your paper. 😉

    Go Blazers

  2. Ossie says:

    I know, Vince, me too, me too.

  3. Sakaki says:

    I see newspapers the same way I see AM Radio: When it was thrown to the wayside as a repository that didn’t have much to go on, it became a new product down the road.

  4. Vincent says:

    I hate you so much, Ossie.

  5. Ossie says:

    I don’t get why people are calling it a bailout. Newspapers aren’t bringing in enough revenue at the moment for it to really be an issue.

    Anyways, as said above, most newspaper people know that turning to federal assistance for help is a dumb idea. A newspaper that can’t endorse a candidate isn’t worth a damn.

    I can see it now…

    Newspaperman: We are poor and need financial help…
    Congressman: Well, why should we help you?
    Newspaperman: Well, we are the ones that put you in check and make sure you don’t take the easy way out on many issues. Without us, you would be more free to do your work.
    Congressman: Hmmm……..

    there are so many factors that go into why so few newspapers make a real profit that I don

  6. Vincent says:

    Well, first of all, there are so many factors that go into why so few newspapers make a real profit that I don

  7. Jobetta says:

    “On one hand, I agree that having robust independent reporting is pretty vital. On the other, if a newspaper can

  8. nike urbanism duk says:

    The Emerald cries for help to save their “integrity” and “independence” were about as meaningful as OSPIGGS squealing as it was stuffed into a shallow grave. Endless ASUO reality show style coverage and articles about sustainability psuedo-science is all it is anymore. They can’t even give that crap away. The sodoku addicts were the only ones who missed it. Who burned more student $ recently-the PIG or the ODE ? How about a chart ? Charging a quarter for a copy of the ODE could make them actually print useful information. Or we could have the worst of both worlds by having them join forces and become The Green Pig Journal. Speaking of sustainability, I have heard the mayor is giving a speech on Moss street at 5 pm on Earth Day(1801 Moss). I am sure some Commentator alums would be sickened by that (they hated Moss street).

  9. Timothy says:

    I mean, if you like your government to do whatever it pleases without oversight or accountability, by all means, throw a party because the future

  10. Daniel says:

    Separate the medium from this discussion, please. I’m all for newspapers dying; I’m not for news organizations dying. Newspapers have thought of themselves as such for too long, and it’s now finally catching up to them.

  11. Vincent says:

    On one hand, I agree that having robust independent reporting is pretty vital. On the other, if a newspaper can’t turn a profit as a business, I don’t see what justifies its continued existence.

    Unfortunately, this conundrum has lead to increasing calls to bail out the newspapers.

    I guess everyone thinks that once newspapers don’t have to worry about catering to the hoi polloi to stay in business, they can get back to writing fair, unbiased stories, even if those stores embarrass their Federal paymasters. In reality, we’re going to end up with a press corps that’ll make the people covering Obama look like tough reporters or another mostly-useless, publicly funded ivory tower organization like NPR.

    In either case, you can pretty much kiss “robust, independent reporting” goodbye.

  12. nike urbanism duk says:

    publicity stunt ditto

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