The Newspaper Crisis

Being covered by people who have an interest in seeing newspapers fail?Say it isn’t so:

This
month, Time magazine, struggling for its own survival in the
hemorrhaging newsweekly marketplace, published a column on its Web site
titled “The 10 most endangered newspapers in America,” which hundreds
of news outlets around the world ran under the headline “What
newspapers will die in 2009?” complete with a list of soon-to-be-dead
newspapers. The trouble is that Time’s “report” appears to have been
created from pure speculation, with minimal reporting or research, by a
Time.com affiliate called 24/7 Wall St.

The Time piece roiled
the newspaper industry, sparking denials and rebuttals while driving
beaten-down newspaper company stocks even lower. Though 99 percent of
the people who read this premature obituary probably assumed it was
written by the professional journalists at Time magazine, it actually
was written by Douglas McIntyre, an editor at 24/7 Wall St., which,
according to its Web site, also runs a site called Volume Spike
Investor, whose self-described goal is to bring stock-market
speculators “five to 10 stock ideas per day in unusual trading activity
that we see in stock volume and in options activities. Many of these
stocks are among very active and very liquid stocks, yet we will always
aim to bring you key ideas in stocks that might not otherwise get
noticed.”

It’s
a sad day when Time, once one of the most trusted publications in
America, runs an unsubstantiated article on its Web site, without a
single disclaimer, from Wall Street speculators who make their living
peddling tips to help day-traders jump in and out of distressed stocks.

So wait, I’m confused. Isn’t Time’s paper delivery method supposed to protect it from questionable ethical relationships and a lack of standards? And isn’t the Chicago Tribune’s status as a tree-derived media product supposed to prevent it from casting aspersions upon a piece simply because one site involved in the piece’s production owns another site that would love to drive a spike through newspapers’ foreheads if it made their stock indicators dance? I’m so confused, because I thought the ethical standards which were implanted like a chip in your head when you got your Official Journalism License sorted this kind of thing out for you. Maybe not.

A.

One thought on “The Newspaper Crisis

  1. I was chatting with the anonymous person behind the S-T’s Twitter account (God bless Twitter, incidentally), who was really pissed off about that. I shrugged it off, being at a troubled paper myself, but he or she made a good point: they’d gotten calls from advertisers about it. An important thing to remember when journalisiming: not everyone is terribly rational or numerate.
    Related: if I see people twittering another Forbes list or putting it in their free daily tabloids (“Chicago: The Third Most Ambivalent City in America”), I’m going to start coming for people’s laptops.

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