From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age? #544505-00002

Submission Number:
Frank Hartzell
Initiative Name:
From Town Criers to Bloggers: How Will Journalism Survive the Internet Age?

The Internet did not kill newspapers. Newspapers killed newspapers, through bottom line management and a wholesale assault on professionalism by global conglomerates. I have worked as a reporter, editor and publisher since 1984. I have worked over this time for McClatchy, Freedom, Thompson, Media News and owned my own newspaper. Jobs included writing for dailies ranging from Sacto Bee to Fort Bragg Advocate News, managing editor of the Napa Valley Register (4 years), professor at Dominican University. I have JBA from Humboldt State University and JMA from Ohio State University. I believe that if the government helped create a professional organization similar to the BAR for lawyers, actual new reporting could be revived and practiced across mediums (TV, newspaper, radio and the Internet). ( I can provide details on this if anybody is interested. I believe a University in Europe has fleshed this out for America) I believe mergers have to be banned, anti-trust laws enforced and tax advantages given to small new operations, or at least the tremendous tax advantages given to conglomerates lessened. We could use a good government financed media, composed of people who are screened by other professionals for sycophancy, ethics and competence. The organization Investigative Reporters and Editors from Missouri would be great to lead this. • How is the Internet changing the way consumers access news and how advertising dollars are spent? Well, others know more about this that I do. But let me say one thing. Newspapers stink and have been getting more odiferous for years. Advertisers were forced to use low quality bottom line newspaper journalism. Now they have options. But with no impetus for the JOURNALISTS as a class to benefit from engaging in professional development, Democracy and advertisers will be equally ill served by owners who have no vision for the future, only for the bottom line now. • What economic challenges do news organizations face today? News organizations need to improve their quality and people would flock to them in this confusing world we live in. News is needed more than ever, but isn’t available. A small number of incompetent corporate ownerships (not unlike the banks) have failed to foresee the need to invest in their employees or the product. We need to open up competition, with actions such as strengthening the inheritance tax so that idiots stop passing our top news organizations to the next generation of idiots. • What cost-cutting measures have news organizations considered etc? Cost cutting has been going forward at breakneck speed for 30 years. When newspapers I managed were making 30 percent profits, it wasn’t enough. There was no investment in the future, no professional development worth mention and wages were being cut as profits swelled. Good people left. Readers got bored as overworked, untrained journalists failed to provide relevant news. Now, crucial news coverage has been cut. • How is the Internet changing the way news organizations and others research, write, edit, produce, and distribute news? Nowhere near as dramatically as it could if journalism were a recognized profession and important issues like global warming, ocean acidification and health care (which are too boring for serious coverage under the bottom line model) were all covered by a cadre of professionals who worked across platforms. • Are new or changed government policies needed to support optimal amounts and types of journalism, including public affairs coverage? YES! #1 No more huge tax advantages for corporations in the media business. I managed a corporate outlet that made $10 million one year. We made $4 million in profit that year. (these figures are almost exact). We paid NO TAXES on that profit. If I had wanted to start a newspaper in that town and made the exact same gross and profit, I COULD not have completed. Because the current ownership has failed to provide meaningful jou