Sunday, May 26, 2013

Once Again, the Local Daily Misses Important Event

While the local daily is busy this morning congratulating itself on its new So Salem community "journalist" hire and showcasing one of its own in-house journalists (working with a freelance photographer) in coverage of Festival, I'm still trying to find even a brief on the local Monstanto protest. This is a national story with a strong local angle,  but we don't get to share in it if we rely only on the paper.

These short shrifts for local events are becoming laughably (so sad you have to laugh) consistent. At least one of you will accuse me of "bitching" about this, but point out something as persistently egregious as a local newspaper missing important events in its coverage, I think, rises a bit above bitching.

Anyhow, are we surprised? No. Should the paper's execs be distressed that we're not surprised? Yes. Are they? No.

(Here's WDBJ7's coverage and the photo above is from that station. Apparently the TV station doesn't have the same resource problems as the paper.)

7 comments:

  1. For two days, the rag ran several column-inches with photo about a minor motorcycle wreck in Roanoke. At the same time, there was a serious motorcycle wreck in Blacksburg, but not a word about it. Weird priorities.

    There is a major high-density student housing project starting construction this summer to replace the Oak Bridge apartments. The first mention of this was as an aside in the article about Habitat for Humanity recovering items from the old apartments before they are demolished. There is another high density, five-story apartment building and companion parking garage proposed next to the Holiday Inn on Prices Fork adjacent to campus. WDBJ covered it, but nothing has appeared in "The Big Bust" (otherwise known as "The Burgs") about it. Same goes for the land sale by the town on S. Main in the old 460 bypass land for an assisted living center -- no word at all. Of course, the RT can't be bothered to send a reporter to any government meetings (except the Montgomery Co. supervisors and school board because of budget and controversy -- not that the reporting is any deeper than a rehash of the meeting).

    With the cutback on staff, movement of the NRV photographer to Roanoke, and the attempt to sell the NRV Bureau office building, it appears that management is working to extract itself from the Valley. It has already written off Pulaski and Radford, Christiansburg is barely mentioned, and Blacksburg only gets mention because of the old BMS site controversy. Sad.

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  2. I worked at the local daily at a time when there were five editions of the morning paper (deadline was 7:30 p.m. for the first one)and our coverage area included the entire 9th District, all the way to Bristol. The people down there depended on people like Buster Carico, Ben Beagle and Paul Dellinger to keep up with things, and they did. The paper cut out that edition a number of years ago, then cut back to three, then two. I know they have some photographers and reporters, but I'm damned if I can find out how they're being used. One or two of them account for about three stories a year, from what I can tell and not many of them seem to ever get out of the office. Sad.

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    1. A long time ago in another life, I was a reporter for the Radford News Journal, part of New River Newspapers (late '70s). The Blacksburg Sun and Southwest Times were the other papers that were part of the operation. We competed against the RT and somewhat against the News Messenger. All the reporters and sports people (we had one photographer, but we all had cameras) were out and about covering news, going to meetings, getting feature stories, and sometimes just dropping in to city hall or the police station to see what was going on. The New River Bureau people pretty much did their coverage by phone from their trailer office on VA 114, although they did occasionally show up for a government meeting if there was something interesting on the agenda. It was nice writing for an afternoon paper because the RT person sometimes had to pack up at the most interesting part of the meeting so he could meet an early deadline. Between this, and just being out of the office, there were many stories that we got before the RT even knew about them.

      These days, it seems to be even worse as far as leaving the office on 114. There are a lot of things happening in the NRV, but if no one drives around to see them, then there is no way to write about them. Of course, that makes being a reporter there a pretty cushy job, since they write maybe one story a week (and with little pressure, something that happened on Tuesday won't show up until Thurs. or Fri. in The Burgs -- timeliness isn't an issue any more).

      I did run across Buster and his red ballcap every so often. Paul was in Wytheville, so we didn't cross paths. Beagle was writing his columns then, but did write an occasional news story -- he was a better reporter than columnist, especially in his later years when the columns were pretty much reruns of old material. There were some other decent reporters around; now it seems like the paper is following the model Worrell Newspapers followed after it bought out New River Newspapers -- hire people right out of school at low pay, claim you are just a "training ground" and don't worry when they move on after a few years (although that kills any type of "institutional memory" and continuity of coverage).

      It will be sad to see the Roanoke Times go away, but that seems to be the path the paper is on.

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  3. Speaking of laughably consistent...

    They did publish a "letter" 2 days ago about the Monsanto event. My guess is there will be something about it tomorrow or tuesday (because of the holiday).

    They don't update their site on weekends. Rarely, if ever. Even the bloggers don't blog on the weekends. That's not a good thing, I'll agree on that. It's not like news stops because it's the weekend.

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