---COVERING GOVERNMENT/COVERING BUSINESS: Worth checking out is a segment from WNYC's excellent media crit show, On the Media. Host Bob Garfield interviews Jeremy Scahill, author of "Blackwater: The Rise Of The World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army."
Scahill paints quite a picture of the privatized war going on next to the public one in Iraq. For those in the business, one point he makes gets to the very structure of reporting. Some reporters cover government, public policy and the war, he says, and others cover business.
But stories like massive government-funding of private business to carry on war fall in a sizable crack. The lines between business and public policy and between the Nation/World section and the Business section are now thin.
As newsrooms re-invent themselves for the web, and beats change, smart editors will look at how better to cover the world as it exists today, and not on how it used to be.
---THE COMMUNITY IMPACT OF NEWS CUTBACKS: It's easy to get lost in the blizzard of job cutback announcements, across the nation. The S.F. Bay Area has been among the hardest-hit (craigslist impact, high broadband adoption, more competition, etc., etc.), with cuts at the Mercury News (another 47 this month) and the Chronicle (100 whacked in late spring) grabbing the headlines.
But what's the real impact? It's the news readers don't get, or get late, or get from a reporter who doesn't really bring much experience to the reporting. The thousand cutbacks lead to more than a thousand cases of inadequate coverage.
For one view of the Bay Area cutbacks, check out Grade the News' John McManus' take on what the cutbacks have meant, with good detail. He quotes one reporter:
"We're all doing the best we can," the journalist says, "but I think I speak for a lot of us when I say we're acutely aware that we're failing the readers. We're not given the resources to succeed."
McManus writes of missed stories, faulty copyediting (a result of regionalized copy desks) and overall poor reader service. He recounts the story of John Bowman, the San Mateo County Times (part of Media News' Bay Area operations), who quit his post as executive editor due to the cutbacks. "What was unthinkable two years ago is now standard operating procedure," Bowman told him. For Bowman's own ongoing take on the poor shape of American journalism, check out his own new blog, Spin Ditties.
---AS THE TRIBUNE TUMBLES, CUBBIES EMERGE: In a little more than a month, we'll see the Tribune shareholders officially bless the Sam Zell deal and then by year's end, the deal should be done, as regulators wave their wands. Then we'll see lots of pieces moving. The one that's public is the sale of the Cubbies. With the prediction that the lovable losers will be the first U.S. sports franchise to go for more than a billion (Manchester United went for $1.45B), Fortune outlines who's willing to take the Cubs off Zell's hands.
The best quote is an old one in the story's lead, from the Tribune columnist Bob Verdi:
"I don't know why we bought the Cubs. We already had a perfectly good company softball team."