Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Star Tribune - Jeckyll or Hyde?

First this Jeckyll side. From Peg Kaplan today:

I sent an email (not my first) to the [Star Tribune] editor, Anders Gyllenhaal. He responded politely, as he had always done previously. But this time, he extended a most gracious invitation. “Why don’t you come to the paper, Peggy,” he offered. “We can meet and talk for a bit, and then you can see how we decide what to do for the next day’s paper afterwards.”

Eagerly, I took Anders up on his offer.

Once downtown, I met a man truly committed to producing a worthy paper. Anders seemed genuinely interested in my opinions; what did I like and dislike about the Strib’s news coverage? What would I change? What did I read, and why did I like it?

Much more there to ponder. Worth a serious read.

But then we come to the "Hyde" side of the Star Tribune. Thats' the one we're accustomed to harping about here. But Hugh Hewitt proposes an idea to deal with Mr. Hyde:

So it occurred to me: Why not do for the entire miserable paper [The Star Tribune] what has been done for Nick [Coleman]? In a word: accountability.

What, I thought, would be the result if enough bloggers from across the country agreed to be part of a "swarm the Strib to reform the Strib" project? Collect at one web site a daily digest of commentary on the lapses in objectivity and logic and the flights of lefty fancy that the paper daily indulges. If there were enough blogger volunteers, two or three could be assigned "beats," say, the second editorial every Tuesday and Thursday, or the political reporting of Washington bureau correspondent Paul Sand or politics reporters Dane Smith and Kevin Duchschere. Not every article would be a hack job, of course, and the idea of instant and certain accountability as to facts and choice of subject might even temper some of the ideological zeal of the Strib's troops. Especially if the web site also made it easy to contact Strib management and Strib advertisers.

I am suggesting an "anti-Strib," a virtual newspaper of sorts, the journalistic equivalent of a shadow government.

More thoughts on this later. But one thing seems clear. Bloggers sitting back and simply accepting MSM business as usual is a thing of the past. The swarms that took down Rather and Eason Jordan were primitive compares to what's coming. Smart newspapers will embrace the technology themselves, and learn to use it. Those that don't will be gradually marginalized in readership and influence.


Anonymous peg k said...

Doug - I think what leads to the "Jeykll-Hyde" scenario is the wall between the opinion pages and the news pages.

Anders truly did seem committed to "doing right" by the news. But - no matter what his perspective and goals are, the editorial people can do whatever they want ... and we know what that has been!

I'd love to have the opportunity to meet with the editorial people as I did with Anders. I do not know if I'd be given the opportunity to do so, though.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I'm not sure that's all of it, Peg. There is definitely a slant in the stories they choose to give prominence and those they choose to bury. But honestly, I thought your suggestions were spot-on for correcting that. And as you said - he's listening. That's something.

The editorial page needs a more drastic overhaul, and I suspect that's Hewitt's biggest target.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Peg K said...

Doug - I know what you mean. One of the specific complaints I had related to how the paper sometimes addresses suburbanites - as if we were all rich, white racists, despoiling the environment ....

Anders said that he knew what I meant. He lives in Edina himself, and he said he's trying to get better coverage of the entire metro area - including attitude as much as pure news.

But - as we both appreciate - the alleged failures of the newsroom pale in contrast to those of the editorial pages!

9:40 PM  

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