Thursday, July 03, 2008

Did the Wire Service kill the Newspaper Star?

I have nothing against wire services.

You know, Reuters. Associated Press. All those news services.

I respect them immensely. The reporters who work there are some of the best in the business and I've been scooped by them at least once (I know you all have, too). Shoot, some of my best friends work for wire services. I was thisclose to applying for a job at one of them myself.

I'm trying really hard not to hate on them because they don't deserve it. It's just, lately, everywhere I look, I see another collegue leaving a newspaper to go to a wire service. If the trend continues, there may not be much of a newspaper for wire services to put their copy into.

Maybe it's the money (I hear they do pay well). Maybe it's the exposure (you get run in papers across the country and online and broadcast!). Maybe it's the fast pace of the deadlines and the ability to make everything a national story and get out of the hyper-local crack newspapers have been on for the last decade.

But as I see some of the best and brightest move to wire services I can't help but think: who's going to be left to write for the newspaper?

Yes, I know the industry is "dying." Many people greater than me have eulogized my dear industry more times than I care to count. Yes, I know everything is going online and people want news now, now now. I got that. But am I the only one saddened even a bit by this trend?

I was talking to a friend of mine who has applied for a job at the AP. The wire service, she says, is the only way to get her out of the small market she's in and into the NYC metro area. The paper she's at, she says, is not longer challenging and the internal politics are wearing on her.

For her, the wire represents a way out.

Here's what I wish would happen:

I wish that all of the great writers everywhere would go to their local newspaper and write the hell out of a beat. When they do that, I wish they would be paid for what they're worth. I wish that everyone -- old newsroom curmudgeons, jaded journos and everyone in between -- would take ownership of the dead trees that land on their doorstep every morning and commit to making it better. I wish that companies would invest more money into the newsroom so the journalists there could have the money to tell the stories they need to tell, the ones they are more than capable of doing.

This is not to knock the hustle of anyone who goes to a wire service because it's a good fit for them, because it's a great opportunity covering something you love, or just because you work there. That's not what this is about.

I want great papers to go to from Providence, and great reporters to learn from while I'm there. And I just wish I didn't feel that the only way to survive in the newspaper business is to jump ship.

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Posted by T Dot at 5:51 PM | link

Read or Post a Comment

and i want to marry gabrielle union but it's not going to happen. Grab that life jacket and get to jumping, buddy.

Posted by Blogger Vandy @ 8:20 PM, July 04, 2008 #

First off, Vandy...Gabrielle Union is already engaged to be married to me.

Second, I think people are not going to realize the true effect of what you are talking about until they (hypothecially) look at their local paper (in print or online) and realize they can't find a story about the school board president being a convicted child molester because there's nobody covering a local education beat anymore.

What happended to the local writer covering the local community?

Posted by Blogger Aaron Morrison @ 4:31 PM, July 07, 2008 #

The wire reporter is going to chime in now. (Drops two pennies into jar.)

I do love newspapers. Wrote for some pretty good ones before I came back to AP -- where my stories STILL run in newspapers.

In my mind, it's really the best of both worlds: Not only do I still get to primarily practice print journalism, my preferred medium, but the homies from New England to the Left Coast are hitting me up to tell me my story was in their newspaper on any given day. Pretty awesome considering I got into this business thinking I was only going to write for one town at a time.

Now I also get to write for the Internet. And maybe be on the radio. Or in a video. I didn't get into this business for the exposure, but I ain't knocking it, either.

What you sound like is every newspaper reporter who has never worked for the wire, so I'm not worried about you.

When you finally come to AP, you'll understand. (Just don't forget to put my name down on the application so I can get my referral cash.)

Posted by Blogger hizzle @ 7:11 PM, July 11, 2008 #
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