Sunday, December 6, 2009

Virginia Newspapers are Committing Suicide

From what I have seen, the strategy of the larger Virginia newspapers is to wait for a big event to occur (typically a tragedy), and report that it happened, but without doing any in depth background research.

Hello. That is why we have TV. Newspapers are becoming more and more like TV without the moving video. Is there a market for cripped tv that lands on your door step once a day? I don't think so.

They have really boxed themselves in with all their "happy news" and style reporting, because it doesn't give them a competitive advantage with amateurs who can publish the same quality product on the internet.

Newspapers used to be good at and connecting the dots between seemingly unrelated pieces of information, but no more.

As an example,Bill Mckelway of the Richmond Times wrote an article about alleged embezzlement at the Virginia Birth-related Neurological Injury Compensation Program, where an employee has been charged with embezzling more than $800,000.00. Some review of the legality of the Board of Directors decisions and oversight might have been in order by McKelway. The minutes of that Board's meetings since 2003 do not appear to be in compliance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

McKelway was at some of their meetings and had access to all their minutes, but just as in the case of the Virginia Tech shootings, the Board gets a pass from the media.

In fact, numerous meetins were attended by Assistant Attorney Generals, but the critical attendance section of the minutes is still inaccurate, and could cast a cloud on the decisions of the Board.

McKelway missed all of this.

From what I have observed reporter such as McKelway are wating for somebody to tell them how things work. They are waiting for a credible sounding explanation, preferably from someone with public stature such as an attorney general or a judge or a Governor. No Watergate journalism in Virginia, just a bunch of butt licking from willing reporters who want to get home on time for dinner.

The issue of the role and the real responsibility of Citizen Boards is something that the newspaper would have to educated the public abou; but the Times will only educate you how to prepare your home for sale, or deep fry your Thanksgiving turkey, or plan your vacation.

Funny, the Times Dispatch has become a sort of regionalized version of Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living.

The publishers scratch their heads and wonder why circulation is down.

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