Monday, March 07, 2005

Take My Newspaper, Please

"I am possessed of the weakness which at some time or the other of their lives pervades most men. I am convinced that I could run a newspaper successfully."
That's what William Randolph Hearst wrote his father when asking for the reins of the San Francisco Examiner. You've got to wonder what The Chief would be thinking today.

America's newspapers have been swept up in an orgy of navel gazing and self-flagellation the likes of which has never been seen in the annals of journalism. An interesting example of this is the National Credibility Roundtables Project, a program of the Associated Press Managing Editors to "promote on-going communication between the public and the press and to encourage journalists to use what they learn to build better news practices." The Times Union hosted one of these forums in February, inviting 27 readers to discuss questions of bias, credibility, and content with the paper's editors. You can read an account of the meeting in yesterday's(3/6/05) TU Op-Ed section. Albany Eye predicts that in coming months you will get a better view of the sausage making than you ever imagined possible.

NOTE: The forum's most interesting participant? Novelist Russell Banks. The paper ran a picture of Banks in the print edition, along with the quote, "The paper feels white and suburban and middle-aged," but somehow left him out of the article. How odd. I'd think that having one of America's greatest living authors on your panel would be worth noting. If you haven't read his fine novels The Sweet Hereafter or Affliction, you should put them at the top of your list. Albany Eye also highly recommends The Angel on the Roof, a collection of Banks' short stories.