Thursday, August 31, 2006

Express Times Assigns Veteran Reporter to Cover Northampton County Gov't Center

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIt's hard to believe. Forty armed conflicts are being waged worldwide. We've just experienced the costliest and one of the most deadly hurricanes ever encountered, with promises of more to come. We live in constant fear of terrorists, avian flu, peak oil and global warming. Famines and droughts are commonplace in different areas of the world. Malaria kills three million children in Africa every year. We're a mess. Yet in the face of all these tragedies and fears, newspapers are actually experiencing a declining circulation. Only half of America reads a newspaper during the week, and the actual number of newspapers has steadily dropped.

What is up with that? Some people are getting their news from TV, I suspect, but a lot of people just don't care. I see and talk to them every day. So do you. They're a hell of a lot more interested in Snakes on a Plane than Congo genocide. I think we're too comfortable and these problems seem worrisome and remote. Our idea of personal sacrifice is buying one of those yellow magnet ribbons for our SUVs. We're asleep at the switch, bippy.

We'll snap out of it. It might take another Great Depression or World War, but I think it's only a matter of time before we return to the papers. A democracy cannot long survive unless we know what's going on.

For this reason, I'm delighted that the Express Times, bucking the national trend, has assigned a second reporter to cover the courthouse. Her name? Sarah Cassi, a Penn State grad, and seasoned writer who previously covered Allentown for the Allentown Times and Phillipsburg N.J. for the Express Times. I spoke with her today, and after fifteen minutes, I would have sworn she had been covering the courthouse for years.

Her counterpart at the Morning Call, Paul Muschick, is another terrific reporter. He has a disarming but deadly accurate style. I've tried challenging him on his factual observations once or twice only to discover he had it completely right.

The Lehigh Valley is very fortunate to have two local papers. They'll have some friendly competition, and the net result is we become better informed and the quality of local government improves. But first we have to read what is going on.

8 comments:

FtHillDem said...

In my opinion, newspapers are declining because they do not fairly report all relevant news. They are heavily biased in favor of the current power structure. If you want to find out what is really happening in the world, use the internet. That is, if you really want to find out.

Most newspapers are owned by just a few national chains, and the people who run them are subservient to the points of view which are permitted by the very few owners. I think that many reporters are quite dedicated, diligent and honest. But they are working in an environment where they must exercise a high degree of self-censorship to professionally survive.

Other journalists know what they must say in order to advance professionally, and seem to be able to quiet their consciences while doing so.

The only good reason to read a paper is often the courageous people who write letters to the editor, often taking issue with official editorial opinions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

FtnHillDem, I pretty much agree with you, although I think this criticism is less valid against print media than it is with TV stations, where news has been turned into entertainment.

And people love it. Although newspapers are declining, TV news is big these days and is actually expected to turn a profit. But there is very little of the in-depth analysis you will find in the smallest paper.

Your criticism is very valid. But we are to blame as well. We now expect everything to be handed to us in little packages. We are pretty much used to having everything handed to us. And very few of us are willing to make the small effort required to find out what is going on.

The Internet is the modern equivalent of the Library of Alexandria. But most people I know don't use it to read The Guardian. It's pretty much a porn distributor, chat room or casino for most adults.

You and most readers of this blog are unusual in that you read the papers and then seek out additional sources of information.

Thanks for your thoughtful opinion.

FtHillDem said...

Agreed, that TV "journalism" is a cesspool compared to newspapers. I don't personally have cable TV in my home, but I occasionally visit relatives who do. When I see their TV programs, I am no longer amazed at why Americans vote the way they do.

If I had to choose one word to describe the attitude of TV newscasters, it would be "obsequious".

Anyway, my website suggestions for news which really reports reality are the following:

You can't do better than "Informed Comment" by Juan Cole to find out about the Middle East. To find out about energy issues, The "Oil Drum" is great with plenty of discussion and links. For war and peace issues, I recommend "antiwar.com", which is actually run by conservatives who strongly criticize current U.S. policy. They are fair, they link to liberal articles also.

You can use Google to easity find all of these sites.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Most journalsim is about sensationalism. Headlines have to attract people to want to read to sell papers and make money.

Unless the bridge I want to save falls down, it will not make the papers. Even the free local paper, the Saucon News, which is suppose to be a more indepth source of local issues has after my begging not covered this issue.

I don't read the Express-Times. I read the Morning Call. One of the problems with the Call is the lack of coverage of the suburbs. It is all about the cites of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. Years ago, when more people lived in the cities that was fine. But now it is not.

Papers can not compete with the speed of coverage that TV, radio and internet sources of information provide. But as was said, stories are not coverd as indepth as the paper can.

But who needs details?

Once the hype of the intial story passes, how many media sources do follow up?

r.moshki said...

Although there is still some fighting in the Congo (the biggr one0 and there was a major civil war there in the 1990's, the only documented "genocide" in the region took place in Rwanda.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Civil war commenced in te Congo is in the 90s and continues to this day. And there have been genocidal massacres in the eastern Congo over the past thre years. I wish you were right and I was wrong. Check out genocidewatch.org.

r.moshki said...

Moshki was mistaken. A further review at Wikpedia revealed "3.8 million" dead!

Even before you responed Moshki knew the gig was up.

It is a sad but fascinating story; just trying to understand all the factions involved would require a lifetime of study.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Africa has the richest natural resources and is probably the birthplace of modern man, but for some reason is the poorest continent.