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Thread: The Quality of Writing in the News Media is Dropping

  1. #1
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    The Quality of Writing in the News Media is Dropping

    Saw this today while reading a story about the prospect of electrical distribution networks failing due to heat:

    Transformers are critical.
    Transformers “slow down” high-voltage electricity so it can flow safely into your home appliances.
    When I mentioned to Candy that transformers don't "slow down" high voltage, but "step down" high-voltage to a lower voltage, she said, "it's just semantics."

    Though it seems one of the great minds in the history of our nation may have had a point: "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." - Mark Twain

    I recall many years ago an English teacher telling the class we could read our news papers to learn about proper writing. Now our newspapers are disappearing, partially because people are now used to getting much of what newspapers supplied for free on their computers or smart phone. In the past a printed newspaper was often found left at the lunch counter or on a train. In essence, it was free for many of us. Often when I was taking the train to work I would pay a quarter for the paper and leave it for the next person.

    A few other folks, to whom this was tossed out for discussion, suggested it may be due to AI now doing a lot of the writing for our daily news bureaus.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    A few other folks, to whom this was tossed out for discussion, suggested it may be due to AI now doing a lot of the writing for our daily news bureaus.

    jtk
    They are 100% right. The times they are-a-changing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Zellers View Post
    They are 100% right. The times they are-a-changing.
    Yep and so is the Post, the Chronicle, the Examiner, et al.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post


    "it's just semantics."
    It's only meaning expressed through language- no big deal.

    Despite profitable operations corporate ownership has slashed newsroom payrolls around the country. The daily papers get thinner as local coverage dries up and "wire service" releases dominate the headlines. There's barely enough there to wrap the fish, and pursuing a career in journalism is a quixotic venture for all but the best and luckiest.

    What to do? Support news outlets that actually pay for original reporting and read enough variety so you aren't just indulging in confirmation bias. TikTok , Xitter and Gannett are not going to do it for you.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 05-24-2024 at 10:06 AM.

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    Media used to lead with the story to get information up front and then supply details. Now they have a lead to create clicks and bury the actual story 3/4's of the way in so you have to scroll by ads. Marshall McLuhan was right, "The medium is the Message." Love the bit in Woody Allen movies Annie Hall, where they are standing in a movie line and the guy in line behind them is pontificating about this work and woody has Marshall do a cameo and he says, "you know nothing about my writing." Brian

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTSmbMm7MDg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    It's only meaning expressed through language- no big deal.

    Despite profitable operations corporate ownership has slashed newsroom payrolls around the country. The daily papers get thinner as local coverage dries up and "wire service" releases dominate the headlines. There's barely enough there to wrap the fish, and pursuing a career in journalism is a quixotic venture for all but the best and luckiest.

    What to do? Support news outlets that actually pay for original reporting and read enough variety so you aren't just indulging in bias confirmation. TikTok , Xitter and Gannett are not going to do it for you.
    I work for one of the larger metro newspapers in the USA. We are breaking even at best. No big profit like in the old days. The only reason we haven't had to cut things to the bone is because we are owned by a local billionaire who is more interested in keeping local journalism alive than making a profit. Our newsroom still has around 200 staff. Our owner is investing some money to reinvent the company so we can survive long term.

    There are fewer copy editors these days, so a missed word, or a misspelled word, is more likely to make it to the reader. This is generally a bigger issue with web articles because there is pressure to get them on the web ASAP so little time for copy editing. Unfortunately, a copy editor might not find issues like the one the OP noted if the copy editor is not familiar with the subject.

    The one newspaper that is doing quite well these days is the New York Times. They have been able to transition to many digital subscribers, and they are actually growing revenue. They make a decent profit these days, although they have been cutting staff too. They eliminated most of their sports department within the past year. They own the Athletic and I understand they are using that staff for their sports reporting.
    Last edited by Brian Elfert; 05-24-2024 at 10:18 AM.

  7. #7
    It seems many times the media is more concerned about how to present the story, than the actual content and how acurate it is.

  8. #8
    My pet peeve about newspaper articles is that they always start with something about a person, rather than the subject of the article. I think they get taught in school how to write an article, so they all do it the same way - always start with human interest. What I want is a quick summary at the beginning of the article which will allow me to decide whether I want to keep reading.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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    Jim - I don't disagree with anything you said, but note that you live not far from the home of the Seattle Times. It's one of the few major independent newspapers left in the country and the last time I lived close enough to read it on paper it wasn't bad at all. I didn't realize how much difference there could be until I moved to a smaller town with a smaller, conglomerate-owned local paper. We pay over $800/year for home delivery including optional extras and for that we get a handful of poorly-edited pages that don't cover much but the latest shooting and restaurant openings or closings. Any national news is 2 days old before we read about it. I consider our subscription fee a charitable donation fo a failing cause.

  10. #10
    Holy smoke 800 for newspaper yikes I don't pay that much for car Ins.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bert Kemp View Post
    Holy smoke 800 for newspaper yikes I don't pay that much for car Ins.
    The local newspaper costs nearly that much for a year for all seven days. Advertising used to pay 80% of the cost of a newspaper subscription and subscribers paid 20%. Now, subscribers pay most of the cost and advertising pays very little. A home delivered subscription for all seven days used to be under 50 cents per day, and it costs about $2 per day now.

  12. #12
    I get the LA Times. It's expensive for home delivery but I like to read the newspaper over breakfast so I pay it.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

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    Craigslist has been a serious blow to the newspaper industry.

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    Brian,
    I’ve always said that if I had a few billions, my vanity project would be to endow a local newspaper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Henderson View Post
    I get the LA Times. It's expensive for home delivery but I like to read the newspaper over breakfast so I pay it.

    Mike
    There's something about the format of a newspaper that just doesn't translate to digital. If it's digital it ain't newsPAPER.

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