The Garret Tree
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
  Microbrew journalism?

My morning blog sweep came up with an interesting hit everyone should read called Microbrew Journalism out of Philadelphia.

These are not good times. The New York Times announced layoffs this week. And, so according to this post, are the Philadelphia papers.

Here is the key quote:

The continued shrinking of the two big Philadelphia dailies highlights a shift in American journalism. The two big dailies offer less and less to read. I buy the Inquirer at Broad and Erie and scan the obituaries and local news on my 20 minute subway ride to Center City. On Thursdays, I read the food section. I don't bother to buy the Inquirer on weekends. I have come to rely on the wealth of news on the internet. On a typical day, I browse online through the New York Times, New York Post, Washington Post, PoliticsPA, Los Angeles Times, Drudge, Jewish World Review and the CBC. I get all the liberal and conservative comment I want. Why waste trees?
For more and more people, the internet, internet radio and cable TV are the main sources of news.

At least when we're working we have three out of three.

Aaron Finestone, the blogger, is according to his profile a lawyer and what he calls "A Reasoned Republican."

What Finestone doesn't mention is that a few years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer was considered one of the best, if not the best, writers' newspaper in the United States. The star graduate of the Inquirer in those days was Mark Bowden, author of the superb literary journalism Black Hawk Down. The downsizing of the Inquirer is another blow to quality reporting.

For an institution that is supposed--according to the right wing CBCphobes-- to hate the United States of America, I am constantly amazed how many Americans actually love CBC coverage. (I had a man come up to me on a London street--he saw the jewel/pizza/logo on my luggage tag on my backpack--a couple of years ago to say he lived in LA and loved The National which he saw on the now late lamented Newsworld International.)

Compare that to the nasty Lorne Gutner, CBC bashing again in the National Post (the site is down at the moment so I had to pull it from our friend Loyalist)

....since I am a member of the public and the CBC doesn't represent me. And I don't miss the arrogant notion that the CBC is where Canadians tell their stories to one another or that the network has some special place in our national debates.

Everything the CBC does could be done as well by other television and radio services. Everything the CBC does is being done now by other television and radio services, except hockey. And if the CBC didn't exist, private television services would quickly pick up the hockey slack, too. In fact, a private broadcaster would likely pick up most of the CBC's on- and off-air hockey staff, and fans wouldn't be any the wiser.

Two flaws in Gunter's argument. The first is the very basis of unreasoned conservatism. They believe they are the only ones who pay taxes. No one else, not even me (and no one knows what my politics are, just because I work for CBC don't assume I'm left-wing).

And just because the CBC "doesn't" represent Gutner, doesn't mean it doesn't represent a signficant number of people in Canada.

And the one sentence in his blog that is pure crap: Everything the CBC does could be done as well by other television and radio services.

Tell that to all the musicians who have come to support the locked out workers and say they only place they have a voice is CBC. Tell that to the people in all the small communities whose private stations ignore them while beaming into the big city markets. Tell that to the people in the North where there are no private stations.
Tell that to the authors who may, if they're extremely hot, might get on Canada AM. When I as doing my first book tours in the 1980s, private radio still had to have news and current affairs. In each town I hit station after station. No longer, it is few and far between. Deregulation you know, easy profits for no effort. Book publishers no longer give even the minimal publicity to mid-list authors (the reason I orginally started this blog) and then blame the author, not themselves when the book fails. At least here in Canada publishers know if they sent books to The Current, Sounds Like Canada, Writers and Company, and, if they target it right to Newsworld shows, the book will get a couple of minutes.

I am beginning to like the term microbrew journalism. In a way, it is what we're doing during the lockout. The only challenge is finding a way to make a living at it if this goes on and on and on....

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

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