Friday, March 16, 2007

Who's Running the Star Trib. D.C. Bureau?

By Christopher Truscott

Minnesota Monitor media writer Paul Schmelzer has done a great job covering the ever-changing newspaper environment in the Twin Cities.

His latest piece is worth a look. For the time being, at least, the Star Tribune's D.C. bureau will be staffed by only an intern. Once again, read Paul's story.

My two cents: If there was ever a time for the media to get its job done right, this is it. From Iraq, to Walter Reed, to budget deficits, to corruption, to incompetence, we need good people doing the good work required to keep the public informed.

Minnesota's congressional delegation deserves even more coverage than two full-time Strib writers and an intern can give it, but even getting back to that substandard staffing level is important. An intern -- or even one veteran reporter -- can't possibly cover Norm Coleman's attempts to reinvent himself as a moderate, Jim Ramstad taking heat from the hard-right crazies and the daily train-wreck that is Michele Bachmann.

Fingers crossed for the Star Tribune -- and Minnesota newspaper readers.

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At 1:35 AM, Blogger Prendergast said...

I read the link--it sounds like slow death by a thousand cuts. How are you going to keep competent personnel in D.C. for any length of time for the salary they're offering?

It represents the end of a great regional newspaper when the management makes an intern solely responsible for its D.C. coverage. It sends the message that management doesn't even care about the paper's reputation anymore, much less about the quality of its news coverage.

It's horrifying to think that the best coverage of Washington stories affecting Minnesota is likely to be coming out of the blogs, in the future. There's no easier media to manipulate than the blogs.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Avidor said...

The blogosphere is an intern economy... volunteer labor for the mainstream media.

At 2:06 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

Avidor is right, and that is the problem. The intern running the Strib's Washington news bureau is reduced to "fact checker"/story sourcer for stories that emerge on the internet/the blogs.

With no experience, no context--but the power to spike stories.

And blogs are so easy to manipulate--the pols and their supporters just feed stuff to the blogs, who print it if it's juicy, and it's picked up by the MSM, who run it if it's juicy. If I'm a politician's press secretary and I'm competent, I can get the attention off any substantive story about policy that hurts "my boy" just by feeding the blogs something really juicy on a different subject or pol.

This is how the newsgathering profession is supposed to work?

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Prendergast said...

And another thing--the biggest story affecting the Sixth District, at the present moment, is the foreclosures on homes/the mortgage failure story.

It's being covered nationally by the AP, but it's just not sexy enough for the blogs--the blogs thrive on scandal. So who do you go to for regular, substantive coverage on this issue--so that the press twists the government's arm and gets them either to do something or explain why they're not going to do something.

No press pressure--no action on the home foreclosure issue. And that is just fine by many politicians. (Yeah, I know, Bachmann's on the House Financial Services Committee. This mortgage story could be a hammer against her, if they do nothing on the mortgages or is she arguing "go slow" while her constituents are being thrown out of their homes.)

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Chris Truscott said...

While the political team gets screwed -- and they're also losing Dane Smith, a great reporter at the State Capitol -- I bet there was no such upheaval in one of the feel-good fluff departments.

Newspapers used to tell people what's important. Now they're turning into a printed version of television, simply responding to what makes people feel warm and fuzzy.


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