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‘More of a crapshoot than it used to be’

Professional Media Relations participants absorbed strategy basics this morning... and heard a mouthful on social media from Carolyn Grisko.

Diana Pando caught PMR 2009 participants listening to Carolyn Grisko.

No doubt about it, folks, we’re in a new era: less means less when it comes to the news.

“As a former journalist you have a pretty good sense of what makes news,” Chicago PR firm president and former Chicago Public Radio reporter Carolyn Grisko told the Professional Media Relations workshop trainees this morning. “But this past year my news sense has been just whacked.”

Pitching is just more of a crapshoot than it used to be, she said… and encouraged our group to think about how they can integrate social media into their larger work.

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Tribune’s Chicago best blogs, vital signs for metro news

Hey, The Chicago Tribune has a feature running on their home page for Chicago’s best blogs. Come on, you know you want to nominate CMW! For npcommunicator, or Curtis Black’s Newstips blog… or both!

I just found it because I was looking for a web version of a “wrapper” that came on this morning’s home delivery Tribune discussing some tweaks to the print edition and reiterating the paper’s “mission.” That’s a promising sign.

Less promising: In an article in The Atlantic, writer Michael Hirschorn envisions the question “[W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” (thanks, Kevin Taglang at Benton Foundation). 

It reminds me of what we see again and again with smaller news outlets: at the margins, news publishing is thriving… but metro news is just taking a tremendous beating. Another way to say that is, anyone can do news and eke out a living, but big bucks are hard to come by. That’s how the news business started in this country. It’s hard to believe that’s what we would go back to.

Bad for business good for news

In a  week with a bankruptcy, a corrupt governor, a global story about workers and the financial bailout, where do you start? It’s almost too good to be true!

Tribune Co. bankruptcy is bizarre… but it’s more about the news business than the news. Yes, we may quibble about what it looks like and what stories end up in the paper (my personal least favorite from my local Tribune this week is a magazine article noting that Logan Square is “hot.” Still? Just now? Again?) Anyway, we may not always agree with our editors’ choices but would still lose big time  if pro journalists, who go find stuff that they think we all need to know, to fade away.

As Vincent Duffy, news director of Michigan Radio, said at a panel discussion in Flint last week, “You can’t yet get a computer to actually stick a microphone in [Flint] Mayor Williamson’s face … I don’t know how you’re going to hear the news in the future but you are going to hear us [journalists] reporting.” Also on the bankruptcy, remember that the Chicago Reader declared bankruptcy a few months back and they are still publishing fine.

A quick side note on the news business, crucial to remember when you think about the model: ethnic and community news outlets are doing fine! So before we go to thinking about the death of news, let’s celebrate the kind of journalism that makes a governor try to knock out a Tribune editorial board member (if John McCormick does not get a raise out of this, it’s a shame–bankruptcy or no) and raise up our community and ethnic news outlets, like this morning’s story (quoting, ahem, me).

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  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]