Wednesday, February 27, 2008

INOTBB Offers Wendy McCaw a Few Poynters

Since I've already agreed with George Bush this week, might as well go in for a penny in for a pound. I'm now going to agree with Wendy McCaw, who regular readers of INOTBB might have noticed I'm not too fond of. I subscribe to the great service PoynterOnline, which provides all sorts of state-of-the-art news about news. In an article posted Feb. 20 they included the line, "Surveys have told us for years that a growing number of people don't trust the media." This is something Wendy and her attack dog Travis Armstrong have harped on frequently to justify the paper's meltdown as some sort of cleansing, although instead of saying people don't trust the media, they say people don't trust journalists (and since neither of them are journalists, they're exempt of course).

But PoynterOnline then explains what one paper is doing to build back that trust. Spokane, Washington's Spokesman-Review has created the "transparent newsroom." Wendy-watchers can already see the problem, as she assumes anyone watching her newsroom--besides her hired private dicks trying to make sure there's never heard an encouraging union word--should be sued.

Here are some of the highlights of what that means:
  • a written ethics policy
  • that is discussed in an open town meeting at the local library
  • a blog by the editor discussing how decisions are made
  • live webcasts of the paper's daily news meetings, when they decide what to cover and how many resources to bring to bear upon any story
  • the hiring of dozens of lawyers

OK, I made that last one up so if Wendy was reading she might stay interested. But it is really worth looking at the full plan. The article goes on to say:

The goal is not, [Spokesman-Review editor Steve] Smith said, for the public to start controlling the press or the content it produces, but rather to strengthen the relationship between the press and communities it serves.

"Journalists always retain the right to say no. Transparency is not the same as passivity," Smith said. "When you’re as open as we are, it's possible to engage in a debate with readers in ways that we couldn't in the past. When people pitch us an idea it still has to be vetted in all the ways that stories do: Is it important enough? Does it match up with our values?"

Speaking of values, here in Santa Barbara, of course, one might argue whether "I own it, damn it" is a value.

What's more, this paper in Spokane isn't some oddball frontier of whacked-out journalism. The PoynterOnline article goes on to discuss other examples of varying degrees of transparency, even at a Coral Gables, Florida Fox TV affiliate. Wendy really has to start wondering what's up when she gets out-thought by a Fox station.

According to the article, the station's news director Forrest Carr said the station aims to uphold democracy, "giving voice to everyday people, in all their diversity, and helping them to hold the powerful accountable. We state what we stand for. And we hold ourselves accountable to the public."

Imagine that.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker