A question often tossed my way when speaking to community groups goes something like this:
Why do you always report the bad news, but rarely the good?
My answer goes like this:
If we are doing our job right, we are reporting what goes on in the community. There are bad things happening in the community and there are good things – and things that some consider bad while others consider good. We need to report them all – or as many as we can.
Since I try to focus this weekly column on journalism and the news media, there’s been bad news to report through the first third of the year. Newspaper closings, layoffs, fear about a decline in quality journalism and what that might mean to our democracy have been in the headlines. Those topics also were weighed on Capitol Hill this past week.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet – whew! – conducted a hearing Wednesday on “The Future of Journalism.” It was sandwiched on the Senate Committee’s calendar between hearings on “Piracy on the High Seas: Protecting Our Ships, Crews and Passengers” and “Tourism in Troubled Times.”
At the journalism hearing, the senate panel took testimony from a handful of noted journalists and Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and user experience for Google Inc.
Here are links to their testimony:
The testimony was a mix of bad and good, perhaps a little heavy on the bad .
Let me balance it with some of the good news that’s crossed my editor’s desk the past two weeks:
Not all newspapers are losing readers.
Editor & Publisher, a journalism trade publication and Web site, reported that a number of newspapers have grown audience in the past year – meaning more people read the news they produce today than read it a year ago. That takes into account the unique users that come each day to the newspaper Web site as well as the number of subscribers to the print edition.
The Daily News was among the leaders in audience growth, year over year. Specifically, we ranked 14th, tied with the Austin American-Statesman with a 5.97 percent increase in audience.
The top five growth newspapers, according to E&P, follow:
Greenwich (Conn.) Time… 111,824 daily audience, up 30.74 percent.
The Birmingham (Ala.) News… 781,047, up 11.85 percent
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans… 820,374, up 11.72 percent.
Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader… 196,229, up 10.45 percent
Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance… 397,412, up 9.93 percent.
The rest of the Top 10 are:
Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call… 511,463, up 9.17 percent.
Times Union, Albany, N.Y… 506,929, up 8.68 percent.
Charlotte (N.C.) Observer… 1,074,856, up 8.36 percent.
Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa… 741,953, up 7.34 percent.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram… 1,236,205, up 7.09 percent.
The next 10:
The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.,.. 496,700, up 6.45 percent.
Houston Chronicle… 2,507,835, up 6.13 percent.
St. Petersburg Times… 1,297,865, up 6.09 percent.
Austin American-Statesman… 861,106, up 5.97 percent.
Naples Daily News… 265,181, up 5.97 percent.
Tacoma News-Tribune… 583,755, up 5.85 percent.
Tampa Tribune… 1,346,182, up 5.76 percent.
New York Daily News… 4,985,862, up 5.45 percent.
Louisville Courier-Journal… 837,719, up 5.16 percent.
Riverside (Calif.) Press-Enterprise… 929,819, up 5.02 percent.
Rounding out the Top 25:
Newark Star-Ledger… 2,308,691, up 4.98 percent.
Chattanooga Times Free Press… 367,276, up 4.43 percent.
Palm Beach Post… 792,392, up 4.40 percent.
Raleigh News & Observer… 854,213, up 4.23 percent.
Sacramento Bee… 1.256,551, up 3.69 percent.
So, the good news – at least from the view of an editor – is that more people are reading our stories, viewing our photographs and making us a daily part of their lives than in past years.
We’ll wrap up with some more good news – at least good news to editors who like to believe that audience is directly related to quality.
Thursday, PrepZone, our high school sports Web site, won an EPpy, an international journalism award given at a convention in New Orleans. It was judged the best designed Web site for newspapers with less than a million daily audience.
Monday, the Society of Professional Journalists announced that Daily News staff members were finalists in 10 categories of the annual Sunshine State Awards. The winners will be announced at the end of the month.
A few days earlier, we were told Daily News journalists won 15 awards in the annual Florida Society of News Editors Excellence in Journalism contest. Those winners will be announced at the annual convention and banquet in Palm Beach on July 10. Fifteen are the most awards we have ever received in the annual contest.