Another Miami Herald Morning

The Columbia Journalism Review has a story this month morning about the "morning letdown" felt by countless newspaper readers.

Guess which newspaper it chose as the exemplar of disappointment?

That's right, it's our own Miami Herald. Here's how Mitchell Stephens begins his piece:

Call it the morning letdown. Your muffin may be fresh, but the newspaper beside it is decidedly stale.

"Chavez bashes Bush on UN stage" reads the headline, to pick one morning's example, on the lead story of The Miami Herald. That was a Thursday in September. But Yahoo, AOL, and just about every major news Web site in the country had been displaying that story — President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela had called President Bush "the devil" — since around noon on Wednesday. The news had been all over the radio, all over cable, too: Fox News had carried, with gleeful indignation, twenty-three minutes of the speech live. Indeed, when Katie Couric introduced the Chavez story on the CBS Evening News, at 6:30 Wednesday, her audience may have experienced an evening letdown. By then — half a day before Chavez's name would appear in newsprint in Miami — his entry on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, had been updated to include an account of the speech in the United Nations.

Editors and news directors today fret about the Internet, as their predecessors worried about radio and TV, and all now see the huge threat the Web represents to the way they distribute their product. They have been slower to see the threat it represents to the product itself. In a day when information pours out of digital spigots, stories that package painstakingly gathered facts on current events — what happened, who said what, when — have lost much of their value. News now not only arrives astoundingly fast from an astounding number of directions, it arrives free of charge. Selling what is elsewhere available free is difficult, even if it isn't nineteen hours stale. Just ask an encyclopedia salesman, if you can find one.

It's rather unfortunate that the Herald was chosen as the example of an out-of-touch newspaper -- call it the luck of the draw. But Stephens is definitely right about what he writes.

After the jump: Mainstream Daily Catches Onto the Alternative Wave

The Association of Alternative Newsweeklies' Steve Davolt breaks a story about the Commercial Appeal in Memphis hiring alternative weekly veterans to help the newspaper "adapt to the Internet age."

One of the alt-weekly reporters hired at the newspaper is my former colleague Trevor Aaronson, who ripped up Hollywood and a few other places during his tenure at NT. Said Appeal Editor Chris Peck: "We were looking for a projects reporter who could write with style and we found him in Trevor Aaronson. His enterprise reporting at New Times in Miami and (Broward) Palm Beach fit exactly with what we needed."

The Appeal also hired NT (Phoenix) alum Bob Mehr to write about the Memphis music scene and former weekly publisher Rob Jiranek as publisher.

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