The struggles of the newspaper industry have been well -- perhaps too well -- documented in recent years but today's front pages of Minnesota newspapers show how they're trying to adapt to survive in a world of breaking news -- de-emphasize it.
Yesterday's top story -- the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington -- got little front page attention around the state today.
The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune put the story below "the fold." The Pioneer Press emphasized a fine profile of a Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress syndrome. The shooting played third banana to that and the continuing flap over the St. Croix bridge.
The Star Tribune headlined the legislative auditor's report on the apparently out-of-control Metro Gang Strike Force and the presidential elections in Iran.
The Duluth News Tribune played the shooting -- or at least the Minnesota connection -- big.
The Mankato Free Press found no room at the top of the front page:
At the bottom of the page, Miss California and the shooting vied for space. Miss California won.
The St. Cloud Times was one of the few newspapers that gave it top-story attention:
You are the editor. How would you have placed the story?
Nationally, it wasn't much different. The New York Times played it low-key.
... which makes Bill Keller's comments in this spoof all the more interesting.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Meanwhile, over at the Huffington Post -- said to be the biggest threat to newspapers -- the story is still playing big with an obvious second-day lede.
I'd have made a similar call as to placement. It's essentially a spot news story with little overall impact or significance. Yes, it's appalling that it happened and that a guard was killed, but I think it would be an act of sensationalism to make it the focus of the front page.
If there was evidence that this was part of a vast white supremacist plot, that of course would raise the news value.
Right. I think what we're seeing is an evolving definition of what constitutes "news"
I think the wall-to-wall coverage pushed this story down on the page. A1 isn't a formula, as I've said on Twitter, but I think you're beating the wrong drum. Nothing about the shooting was "breaking" — by the time newspapers got it, the man's entire history was laid out on the 10 p.m. news. 1 death, no pictures, no widespread fear keeping people away from public places. Yes, to the Jewish community (and really, all minorities), it's a scary reminder that this still happens, there are still crazy people out there, and sometimes they have guns. But none of us thought for a second we were living in a post-racial world.
And if you're thinking that those kids from Roseville makes the story relevant — as clearly MPR did in their afternoon reports — then I would heartily disagree with you.
Sure, the eventual story becomes — what does this all mean? If anything? But if you want introspection/analysis/opinion-making, looking at a paper 10 states away the next day is probably not your best bet.
I think the publishers of print news understand that most people turn to immediate news sources - I will refer to it as "instant news" (i.e. online, radio, and television news sources) - for stories such as the museum shooting. The value of print news, today, lies in its ability to bring perspective to stories that either have room for in-depth scrutiny or are not found in the spotlight of instant news providers. Outside of everyday newspaper readers, the majority of impulse buyers, who are drawn to a newspaper by headlines, would not be attracted by material that had already been covered to death by instant news sources.
Good point. There's not much to scrutinize in this particular store; hence it not being above the fold.
What I'm hearing is it was just one guy shooting another guy -- pretty much like the last page of the B section each day. Was it?
And maybe that's true, but I think today some online sources are showing that there is analysis and more to be done. And I am willing to bet when I open up the OpEd page on Sunday, there'll be several analysis pieces relating to this.
The most obvious analysis piece is the tenor of discussion in America and whether it breeds violence. I'm looking forward to that. It might be best left to the online world.
The video was funny, "whats black and white and red all over", "the newspaper", "No your balance sheet"
Mr. Collins -
I agree that there is plenty of discussion to be had on the indirect effects of this event on society - I actually did not consider this when previously diagnosing the print media's approach to the story - and what it says about the current state of society, but as you eluded to, online forums are probably the best place to hash things out.
It wasn't just one guy shooting another. It was an anti-Semitic man, a guard who was killed in the line of duty and a story of an even larger disaster averted. And yes, there is plenty of room for analysis and discussion about what this is and what this means and what happens next.
But like Bob said in the first comment — if they had spread this across 5 columns in huge type across the top, it's would be sensationalism. We know most of the facts — who he was and how he felt about the Holocaust — and you're right, both online sources and DC and national papers are uncovering more about what happened in the weeks leading up to this.
But when the paper prints? The wires only had what was available, which are just the facts that had still been siting out there all evening on wall-to-wall coverage online and on air. I'll bet there will a larger piece compiling all the new information on tomorrows Nation+World page on A3. But if you're going to a newspaper for anything more than a nicely packaged digest of yesterday's local news and wire coverage of non-local stories, you're going to be disappointed.
And as far as the tenor of discussion being left to the online world? I'd point you in the direction of online comments on the local paper's websites to show you how often times any attempts to have a real discussion about anything often devolves into a cesspool of anonymous backbiting and insults. MPR is a different breed, most of the time. But still — the medium *here* isn't superior. In fact, most people have to actually print their name to get into the newspaper, so if you want real accountability, it might be best to look there.
Your points are well taken, Matt, and most certainly appreciated.
You know, I was just daydreaming awhile ago, going back 30 years when commercial radio was dying and the standard answer to justify its existence was "we can tell you what's happening right now, and then you can go to tomorrow's paper and find analysis and details."
Fast forwrd 30+ years and commercial radio news has expired and newspapers are on life support, unable or uninterested in being that source for analysis. That market has been usurped, too.
So, really, what's left?
That's the million dollar question, Bob. I'll tell you this much: it isn't Twitter. The trending topics were all about Ms. Prejean losing her crown. Technology can't dig us out of every hole.
And if you want a good example of what online conversation can devolve into, well, you know where to go.
There's no good way to handle a story like this.
In-depth coverage of the man and his motivations give far more time and energy to a disgusting and misguided worldview than should ever be allocated. Scant coverage leads to conspiracy theories that there are people just like him in control of the media.
The fact is, the setting this man chose to carry out this terrible act does not require much of a, if any, leap to see that his intent was to not only take a good number of lives, but to do so in a way that would inspire fear and promote his agenda.
The heroic act of the security officer, is not only what averted what could have been an even greater tragedy, but also, thankfully, gave this story the limited legs it has shown.
Security Officer Johns is a hero. His family, should grieve, but should do so with the knowledge that his sacrifice saved many families from experiencing the same tragic loss that they have endured.
We should celebrate the heroism of Mr. Johns and be thankful that the loss of life detailed within the Holocaust Museum is a part of our past, but mindful that unchecked ignorance and hatred can always make it part of our present.