March 2, 2010

Feet On The Ground

No, this isn’t a post about shoe-leather reporting. It’s about numbers of reporters.

Doing good journalism is difficult if a news organization doesn’t have enough reporters to cover the news. We can quibble about “enough” I suppose, but I don’t think I’m making an outrageous claim. I think we’ve seen plenty of examples of what happens when the corporate owners of news organizations cut back in newsrooms in order to bolster the bottom line. I consider it a colossally stupid thing to do given the reason that people buy newspapers in the first place.

We’ve seen the results of this thinking right here in Springfield. The Gannett-owned News-Leader was bleeding reporters like crazy and then trying to publish a useful product with too few feet on the ground. The results were predictably sad.

Now I’m making no claims about the quality of the surviving reporters. Some of them are very good. My beef about the (lack of) quality of the News-Leader has always been with local management and Gannett.

The News-Leader is hiring again. And the good results have been almost instantaneous. If this keeps up, I’ll gladly re-subscribe.

The opinion section is still a huge problem for reasons I’ve discussed before. Very little has changed there. It remains toxic and best avoided by reasonable, civic-minded people of goodwill.

But, let’s not end this on a sour note. I’m very happy with the results (so far) now that there are more reporters covering Springfield.

2 Responses

  1. George 

    Could you please cite an example of two of this improved reporting that you’ve seen in the News-Leader and attribute to newly-hired reporters? I haven’t noticed new bylines and I haven’t noticed improved coverage. Please help me change my plans to drop my subscription (after more than 30 years) when the current one expires.

  2. acline 

    George… Cox radiation story (N-L coverage better than the NYT). Kathryn Wall.

    Also, note that I said “if this keeps up” I’ll re-subscribe. The N-L still has a ways to go yet.