Monday, November 17, 2008

Murdock to media: provide news people “can trust”

CNET’s Charles Cooper at COOP’S CORNER - - -

With newspapers cutting back and predictions of even worse times ahead, Rupert Murdoch said the profession may still have a bright future if it can shake free of reporters and editors who he said have forfeited the trust and loyalty of their readers.

"My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers," said Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp.

He made his remarks as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Australian Broadcast Corporation.

Murdoch, whose company's holdings also include MySpace and the Wall Street Journal, criticized what he described as a culture of "complacency and condescension" in some newsrooms. . . .

To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a "60 Minutes" report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.

"Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively. During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. '60 Minutes,' he said, was a professional organization with 'multiple layers of checks and balances.' By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as 'a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.' But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.

"Mr. Rather and his defenders are not alone," he continued. "A recent American study reported that many editors and reporters simply do not trust their readers to make good decisions. Let's be clear about what this means. This is a polite way of saying that these editors and reporters think their readers are too stupid to think for themselves."

Murdoch's comments come at a time when the media landscape looks increasingly bleak both for print-based and online news organizations. A recent report by Goldman Sachs predicted that advertising pressure will continue because of the declines in the auto and financial industries. Online outlets are also feeling the impact. On Friday, shut its San Francisco office.

Despite the blemishes, however, Murdoch said newspapers can still count on circulation gains "if papers provide readers with news they can trust." . . .

Cooper’s entire post’s here and well worth a read.

Journalist friend Bob Wilson, who sent along the link to Cooper’s post, added:

Murdoch hits the nail with his comments. The real problem does
lie, to a great extent, with the people who are running Old Media.
I know what Murdock says resonates with many of you.

Also, my post yesterday – McClatchy's Raleigh N&O editor shrugs off readers' criticisms - is right in line with what Murdock and many others are saying about editors and reporters disrespect for their readers, listeners and viewers.

Hat tip: BW