Sunday, January 11, 2009

When Watchdogs Don't Bite

When Watchdogs

Don’t Bite

"The press [is] the only tocsin of a nation. [When it] is completely silenced... all means of a general effort [are] taken away." --------------------------------------Thomas Jefferson

Unfortunately, the sour economy and the Internet’s inroads on print advertising have taken a toll on all newspapers and are choking local news-gathering. It is no secret that TV news uses newspapers for story content and coverage ideas. Reporters and management who come from all over the nation have little understanding or connection to the community they report on. In any event, financially forced staff cutbacks of experienced reporters are hurting both newspapers and the local TV news, forcing the City’s press to rely more and more on flacks and hacks to provide them with information and story ideas.

Thomas Paine was one of the first journalists to use media as a weapon against the entrenched power structure. He should be resurrected as the moral father of the Internet.

Journalism on the Internet is showing signs of good local coverage but it needs time to grow and learn. For now, there’s not much original critical and investigative local reporting on the Web, making the collapse of traditional news all the more likely that local government will get a pass when it comes to answering tough questions.
For example, there has been no coverage lately of the City Council’s slush fund corruption scandal. Political corruption coverage has been limited to legal charges against elected officials. Additionally, there are no investigations currently directed at those who may be culpable in the City’s economic meltdown, which would ultimately shed light on what to do to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. It is unbearable to watch politican after politican caught in the act, assume that the press is so weak that said pol can spin his or her way out of any problem, or simply wait until the press moves on to something else – which it often does. It’s hard to envision what might fill the void once the City's newspapers die.

Back to the Future
WNYW/Ch. 5 is considering going into the past to connect with viewers in the future. Station officials are weighing whether to bring back editorials, those brief on-air pieces in which a station executive presents the company's position on a key issue. Local editorials once were standard on TV stations around the country. However, over time and for various reasons, the concept faded away. NY1 began to crack the editorial ban when it allowed community leaders during the term limits debate to take two minutes of airtime to explain their opinions. They are doing the same thing today with Paterson’s senate pick.

Stations that bring TV editorials will reconnect with issues that the public cares about, making viewers feel all the more a part of the community and will result in higher ratings. If WNYW goes ahead with its editorial plan, it'll be a good sign in this crisis for local journalism. When the public’s watchdog gets sick, everyone gets hurt.

'A City Divided' is a series of editorials by WCBS TV expressing the opinions of the station's management. They were broadcast in 1969 when there was growing indication of racial and religious polarization in New York City, due to the City's tumultuous school strike.

Editorials Times The Stimulus Debate * Bill Clinton’s Donors *** Post JOE'S 'JUSTICE' - Brooklyn DA*** Daily News 107G, the cost of the average city worker is way too high *** Room 8 Municipal Bonds--World's Largest Ponzi Scheme? (Plus, Yankees debacle) - Popik * Health Care in Feudal New York - Littlefield

Columnists Times Notes From the Chairman - Bono - What Sinatra taught him about life * Eight Years of Madoffs - Rich - Sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad * An Extremist Makeover? - Dowd - Cheney spins his record * Tax Cuts for Teachers - Friedman - Need to stimulate minds *** Post THE DEMONS OF GAZA - Peters *** Daily News Hey Mayor, where's our Charter review panel? - Lisberg * How Obama can pull off the sales job of the century - Louis *** Room 8 Municipal Bonds--World's Largest Ponzi Scheme? (Plus, Yankees debacle) - Popik * Health Care in Feudal New York - Littlefield *** Leon Panetta: Speaking Truth to Power - Reeves ***

Albany Paterson and Kennedy Meet to Discuss Senate *** Caroline, Gov Finally Powwow *** Kennedy interviewed by Paterson for Hillary's seat *** Malcolm Smith promises a more open Senate - Smith’s new digs *** Statewide Emergency Wireless Network May Be Canceled *** A Governor With No Money Seeks to Improve the People’s Health.

Wall Street Mess Financial Journalists Say Media Dropped Ball On Crisis *** Madoff's Brother's Role *** MADOFF BLISTERED HIS SISTER: SCAMMED FOR '$3M' Rep. Frank Says Role of SEC as Markets Cop Should Be ‘Beefed Up’ *** Madoff Effect Lingers On: Then, the Money Went to Steady Returns; Now, Investors Question the Industry *** Bernie's Weekend at Home, Before Judge's Decision *** Cash-Squeezed Calif. to Close Offices Twice a Month *** Robert Rubin: Gone Fishin *** Rubin's Run at CITI Ends in Resignation After $20 Billion in Losses... *** Another retailer declares bankruptcy *** Legal eagles fly from Wall Street.

City Hall If Bloomberg wants Silver to renew mayoral control of the city school system he better keep Schools Chancellor Klein far away from Albany *** 2008 tax rebate to pay for 2009 tax hike *** Weiner will try to fight his way out of Mike's shadow *** Saying 'what the hack', cabbies adjust to plastic *** B'klyn residents are ticked off by city ticket blitz *** Lights, camera, more action at city studios *** Manhattan will lose 70% of its wee hour bus service under the MTA's Draconian budget cuts *** Bronx Neighborhood Protests Firehouse Closing *** CIG BAN IGNORED: MORE BRAZEN SMOKERS DEFY CITY RULES *** A council candidate resumed his campaign Saturday, four days after a boy was struck and killed by the candidate's campaign bus in Queens.

Changes In the City's Neighborhoods Since 2000, Up Close and Personal - More whites have moved to Harlem * More young children now live in Lower Manhattan, the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side * The Rockaways registered the biggest percentage gain in population. Coney Island had the biggest loss * The number of blacks in southern Staten Island grew by half; Elmhurst lost 1 in 3. *Asians recorded the greatest gains in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and Hispanics in Bay Ridge * Among people who don’t speak English at home, the Upper East Side lost the largest share, while southern Staten Island gained the most.

Washington Senate Republicans are licking their chops as they prepare for confirmation hearings for Eric Holder, Barack Obama's attorney general pick *** O & BUSH PU$HING CONGRESS - to release the 2nd half of the $700B bailout package *** Some Obama campaign promises on hold as economy sinks *** Obama: Make that 3.5M jobs my plan will create *** Rubber Stamp for Hillary *** Analysis: GOP urging restraint in stimulus debate *** HONEST, ABE GETS A VISIT FROM BAM *** A Bed-Stuy Band Prepares for a Brush With History.

Israel Where Were the Protesters When Missiles Were Hitting Israel? *** The Jerusalem Post says the point is to stop terror *** Bush reportedly rejected Israeli plea to raid Iran.