Blogarama Vocal Minority: The Oregonian's at it again

Vocal Minority

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Oregonian's at it again

The Oregonian wakes up, or they're alive, or...
Last Sunday, May 15th. the Public Editor, Michael Arrieta-Walden decided to throw us another curve ball. Based on a survey of 630 readers ( how do you get on that list anyhow) the paper needs to change it's approach to the world of news. I've read the Oregonian for over 30 years and watched it slowly turn into what many call a birdcage liner. Mind you, it's never been a good paper but it's now darn near worthless. Let's take a look...

Front page sec. A - This is where the paper is supposed to cover national and international news but we get stories about cowboys, new shopping centers and various acts of good will. Each day something is said about Iraq so it will qualify as international news. My favorite day is Monday when the A section is 8 pages long with 2 full pages of ads. I guess not much happened over the weekend.

Metro - The real local news is crammed in here. Auto accidents, murders, rapes, gang activity and what might be happening in salem. They meet every 2 years and we get maybe 25 inches a week on the 400 or 500 new bills. What I especially like about this section is how the Obituaries are stuck right in the middle of it beside the upbeat stories. Oh, and I forgot the cynical Back Seat driver, Stephen Beaven. Does anyone else get tired of his attitude?

Business - Well, business sections are not really very exciting because most of it is self promotion except for the "Who was indicted today" down the left side.
Sports - A big section with an extra every Monday but really, who cares. When the Blazers aren't playing they really haven't anything to talk about. But, if they covered the real news as well as they do the sports section we'ed have the number 1 paper in the USA.

Living - If there is a section of the paper directed at the twenty somthings, this is it. Problem is this is where the boy scout and booster club articles go, not the front page.

Now for some excerpts from Micheals Sunday surprise -

"The survey is far from scientific. Yet the responses are noteworthy because they run counter to much of the thinking and trends at the newspaper. Local news is the newspaper's franchise. Space devoted to nonlocal news, other than the Iraq war, has declined in recent years."
It was your survey, you want scientific then make it so. When you're the 800 lb. gorilla "local news" is not the papers franchise. Space devoted to nonlocal news was the papers decision and most likely not the result of a survey.

Peter Bhatia, the newspaper's executive editor, says he also would like to devote more space to national and international news. "But our priority is and will be local news. We have to make choices about how we use the space in the paper, and local news is far and away what readers tell us they want and what our formal research shows."
So what the hell is with the survey? What's the difference between formal research and a scientific survey. Sounds to me like he's talking out of both sides of his mouth on this one.
Bhatia notes that the paper's definition of "local" includes "any news that people here care about..."
What the hell is he talking about. Local is local. If the public want's to here about Iraq, then they want national news. Cut the crap.

The bottom line here is that the Oregonian will decide what you need to read about. They will determine if it's "local" or has a "local" connection which qualifies it for their community newspaper. They want local, but refuse to cover the Oregon legislature until the partisan fighting at the end of the session. Had they done their job in the past, I doubt the legislature would be reviewing past bills for revision. They also claim to have limited space for news, but have plenty of room for an article about some bum collecting garbage and making "art" out of it. They could also get rid of the Personal Style insert that comes out once a week with a model on the cover that looks to be 16 years old sitting with her legs spread wide.

A local paper has two duties. They are supposed to be our watchdog for government and alert us when the elected officials are heading off in the wrong direction or their trying to slip a bogus bill in under the radar. Also, their supposed to provide us with "news", as referenced in their name. News is news. As the world shrinks and we become more global in the economy and social aspects the newspaper is expected to follow suit and expand their coverage, not shrink it. This is especially bothersome when they do such a lousy job of covering Oregon. Instead of sending 3 reporters to Iraq, where they could simply pick up the news wire and cover it aduquately, they should send 3 reporters to remote parts of Oregon and tell us what the local problems are and what they think of the State of Portland.

I've often heard that the Oregonians circulation is dropping and I believe that is the reason for their self analysis. Then they throw a survey at us and state that they have tried to guide us but we are fickle and did not follow. In the end they did not tell us what they intend to do to improve the daily rag. Or maybe their not going to change it after all...

P.S. - For the few faithful that have followed my rants, I have taken a sabbatical recently to help a relative out with a cancerous tumer.

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  • The living section is for preteens. I'm a twenty-something and I wouldn't be caught dead reading it... It's a real snore and not applicable to anything I'm dealing with. I stick with reading my news online. Nytimes, Latimes, CNN. The Oregonian just doesn't cut it for college campuses.

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