Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Sunday Paper

I did something this morning that I haven't done in a long time: purchased & read the Sunday Enquirer.


Not only has it been raised a quarter (to $1.75), but it's 3/4 of it's original size (dimensionally), seemingly holding half of the content that it once had (stories & ads alike), and missing a lot of the familiar names (staff cut, as reported recently) - a shell of it's former glory (if you ever wanted to call it that); resolute in it's hollow destiny it seems, as seen with its sister, The Post, and nationally.

The Cincinnati Enquirer Building (1915). 

Blame what you will on it's demise - the coverage, content, writing, management, etc. - but peer-to-peer information sharing is full upon us, which is seemingly just as powerful and believable and true "journalistic" reporting. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and the web in general, support this new mobile lifestyle and moment-by-moment reporting of everything and anything happening in each of our lives, and the result: Everyone is an exhibitionist, and anything can become popular culture in the blink of an eye... except newspapers.How can one wait for day-late inked stories on cellulose to arrive doorstep and still be relevant? Moreover, how can the makers of these assets expect one to pay for it?

The freedom that the internet provides is individual selectivity - control over our own interests, what we want to see and when we want to see it - not to be confined by the platter or time slot served to us by big media.

That being said, the drive to gain readership online has driven a raging popularity contest. This, to me, is a concern: The traditional news sources of yesterday are feeding into pop-culture mentality more than expounding upon intellectual pursuits. Not a big deal for those who wish to research on their own, but a problem for those who take front page reporting of the big networks seriously anymore - because it seems that objectivity is dead.

So, not only have I stopped buying the paper, but I've stopped reading it online as well. And the other big names aren't any better - for instance, have you gone to lately? I sometimes confuse it with The Onion - it's amazing what they'll put on the headline, front page, "live developing story", and latest news, not to mention the sub headings. I may just be jaded right now, because it's not all bad, but overall it's just not good.

Maybe these trivialities of everyday existence have always been expounded upon, and I just haven't paid attention. Or maybe this is the down side of the internet - free, anytime information means no-holds-barred on content, editing, recycling, and updating. I suppose when printed media was all we had, the presentation had to be more selective, more informational, more resolute, because of it's slow, static, finite nature.

Anyway, I predict that printed media still viable will go the route of "papers" like Citybeat or Cin Weekly - driven solely by adverts and/or donations, and free to the public. And yet, this too will one day be antiquated (if it already isn't). Maybe Google had it right from the get go - all free, all the time, with ads dominating the particular item's viability... and only digital.

OK, that was a bit of a tangent.

The original reason for writing today was to share this article from today's Enquirer about WKRC (Channel 12) opening up their broadcast archives to the public. If you're interested in the history of the city, this is a great way to catch up on it. One of my personal favorites there is what the Enquirer showcased: Weatherman Ira Joe presenting his backward-writing skills in the 80s (Note: Partial fondness here derived from his residence down the street from mine when I was a kid).

Ira Joe Fisher (1980s). 

• Visit the WKRC-TV Video Vault.

• Additionally, the other local stations have released a bit of their past.
Some notables are:
- Channel 9's history and Uncle Al collection.
- Channel 5's history, Ruth Lyons collection and Paul Dixon Show.
- CET's Broadcast Pioneers and CUT's "Died Young" documentary.

Update (5/29/9): This article discusses the issue of new media further, and references Cincinnati in the process.

Update (10/10/9): Check out this progressive stance on the future of news, from 1981...

Story source: boing boing.
Video source: earhweek.


VisuaLingual said...

Have you seen this CityBeat article? It's bizarre on several levels, one of which is the mention of my own blog [flattering, but random].

Matt said...

Wow - that was published 4 days ago. I guess that shows that I don't really read any of the local papers anymore. If I still lived downtown, I'm sure I'd be more inclined to pick up the free press more often, but I don't.

The proposal in that article sounds pretty rough - like the Beacon's blog layout, but less selective than the (imo) better Cinplify format. Anyway, that's great that you might get picked up by the Enquirer - nothing wrong with making a couple of bucks from the time you spend on it. :)

VisuaLingual said...

Yeah, it's amazing to me how many people have already stepped up the plate with innovations in local media -- Cinplify, BuyCincy, even the Cincinnati Beacon, and then whatever Joe Wessels is supposedly working on. The Enquirer seems a bit late to this party.

Further, it amuses me to no end that they want to separate this effort from their brand and image. I mean, sheesh...

Lastly, what could they possibly want from me? A ghost sign column perhaps? I'd be really curious to know their plan. At the same time, sponsorships and partnerships like this are a quick way to both lose credibility and lose one's audience. To be perfectly honest, I'm betting that they're looking for content on the cheap, so I'm not exactly waiting breathlessly by the phone. Although, if they are interested in a ghost sign column, sign me up!

CityKin said...

The print media will never die, but the daily printed newspaper cannot last much longer. I agree, I grew up reading the daily paper, but only look at one now when visiting my parents, and the Enquirer's website is terrible. I only go to it, when articles are linked by other bloggers.