The “readers’ representative” at the Minneapolis Star Tribune is Kate Parry. We’ve dealt with her a time or two. Today she has an article about the Newsweek fiasco and another issue unique to the Strib. It’s not a bad piece, but I don’t buy her explanation of why newspapers like the Star Tribune have historically been slow to critique themselves or other journalists:
Lesson No. 4: More often than in the past, the performance of the media is a story worthy of page one. The Star Tribune is coming to this realization painfully slowly. For years, editors here figured readers weren’t very interested in the inside baseball of the news biz. But the country’s stark political divide and the buzz created by media-hostile talk radio and blogs have changed that. News stories often shift — or are shifted by skilled spinmeisters — from the original story to a frenzied critique of the coverage. When that happens, the discomfort with putting a story about the media on page 1 is palpable in news meetings here. Sometimes editors grit their teeth and do it — as they did last week with Nick Coleman’s column on Vick’s parents describing how hurtful news coverage had been for them in the wake of their son’s death. But in other instances the paper has dragged its feet in admitting a story about the media is news and then buried it deep inside the newspaper. It’s time to shed that reluctance — readers are keenly aware of and interested in the myriad media that bombard them daily. It’s also fair game to let readers know when they’re being manipulated by skilled political spin doctors trying to keep the focus on the media and away from officials.
I think Ms. Parry is right to credit the blogosphere and talk radio for the fact that major media news coverage is being dragged out of the shadows, but I really don’t think it was the modesty of the mainstream media that put it in the shadows to begin with.
Ms. Parry doesn’t mention grammar as one of the areas where the media have taken a beating lately, but maybe she should have: the sub-heading on the link to her article on the Strib’s main page reads: “Press has took a drubbing in last week.”