Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bob Cauthorn Did It

A shocking report just issued by the prestigious Journalism Society Review indicates that the collapse of the newspaper industry may have begun right here in Tucson. Local Data Port readers may remember the pride we pioneer StarNetters felt when the Arizona Daily Star first went on line; a journalistic 'first.'

Star reporter and computer guru Robert Cauthorn was hailed as the saviour of journalism for the digitalization of our daily paper. As much as techies loved the accomplishment some of us, this reporter included, were heard to mumble, "Who the hell wants to read a newspaper on a computer."

Pretty soon we all did, especially as we left heavyweight desktops behind for teeny cell phone screens and we could take our electronic papers to the outhouse with us.

Unfortunately we also left behind the idea that we ought to pay for our news. Right there the rot began; and it was all Bob Cauthorn's fault. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Incredible Shrinking (Arizona Daily) Star

A story in Sunday’s Star announced a reshaping of the paper and the reduction of certain types of coverage. Stock listings will be gone, except the listings for local companies. Wire stories related to entertainment and lifestyle will disappear.

The Accent section will be gone Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday Accent will be re-branded as Food, The Arts, and Out and About.

Monday through Saturday, Business and Tucson & Region will become part of the A section. The new A section will start as it does now with national and international news, followed by Business, Tucson & Region, obituaries and the Editorial pages.

The Sports Section (of course) and Caliente will remain the same as will the Sunday  paper.

Exactly how many column inches of news will  be lost is very hard to determine, since the changes are intended in part to do away with odd pages that had to be filled with self-promotions to make he page count come out.

But things don’t look good. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Arizona Guardian Reporters Denied Access

My suspicions are confirmed: Republican politicians, particularly the ultra conservative sort, prefer to hunker down in dark corners where they can work undisturbed by nagging questions from reporters.

The Data Port has received e-mail from the Arizona Guardian reporting that

"Senate officials are denying access to lawmakers' offices and even the Capitol press room to some media organizations that don't have a lease with the Senate. And, despite a much-ballyhooed budget shortfall and extra space available in the press room, Senate officials refuse to issue any new leases, even short term through the end of the upcoming legislative session. The ban on some reporters primarily affects the Arizona Guardian staff, which started operations at the Capitol on Monday. Arizona Capitol Times reporters, who also do not lease space from the Senate, are still allowed to roam the halls outside of lawmakers' offices and but can't use the desks in the press room."

Read the Arizona Guardian story here.

Call the office of the State Senate President to comment.
(602)926-3559 or toll free 1-800-352-8404

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Arizona Guardian Launches

Is it a newspaper or is a blog by any other name still a blog? Four Arizona journalists have launched a newspaper based on “a new business model.” The reporters and editors are the owners and publishers.

We may be seeing more undertakings of this sort across the nation, as newspapers cut newsroom staff. For that matter we may see established “dead tree” newspapers giving up paper for electrons.

A recent report about the LA Times indicated that for the first time its electronic edition was actually paying for itself, covering editorial costs. How long before owners find deep-sixing paper attractive?

Check out the Arizona Guardian and its staff here.

Wish them well.