Rochester paper’s labor turmoil

So I’m reading this piece in the Rocheser Ciy paper about labor turmoil at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and near the end hit this graph:

“There’s more and more emphasis for all of us to take a new-media approach to what we do,” says Orr. He and Guild Vice President Gary Craig joke that the best way to get attention and funding for a project is to pitch it with a strong multimedia component.

Why is that a joke? That’s how it should be. Newsroom staff need to be taking online more seriously. One reason journalism is in a crisis stage is because too many reporters and editors haven’t been willing to change with the times. Next graph:

But the Guild is worried that by changing the medium in which reporters are working, there’s a danger of changing the way the news value of an event is judged. Once the D&C starts running a steady stream of videos, will car chases and fires become more important news events?

So a car chase the disrupts traffic, can potentially have a devastating effect on a community, or a fire that could alter the lives of fellow citizens, isn’t a news event? The alternative view is, I suppose, that it’s only a news event if a professional journalist says its a news event. Of course, that’s part of the reason readership is declining.

On the other hand, I have a bit of experience in this area and some first-hand knowledge that putting video cameras in reporter’s hands doesn’t lead to more chase/fire coverage. Rather, it leads to better reporting.

One good thing I can say about The Bakersfield Californianis the guild is fully invested in helping the paper transition into the digital era.

I actually found the above link via Doc Searls, who has a lengthy post of advice for newspaper Web sites. He makes some good points, and while I agree with certain things (more links, more things to crawl, etc.), that’s also pretty minor points in the overall scheme of things. Those are merely worthwhile tactics, not strategic changes. Also, Searls comes across with the usual cluetrain snootiness that rubs me the wrong way. Only the cluetrain crowd knows best. Those of us who haven’t signed the manifesto are by default, clueless — which is exactly why I don’t where the uniform.

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