Why Journalism Matters

I love to rip on sportswriters who ask the same questions each and every year, with only the names, records and teams changes to protect the bored.

Why ? Because journalism matters. Every game is its own ecosystem (welcome to the new tech buzzword inserted here to make you say.. huh ?). It takes on a life of its own, with strategy, personalities, sub plots. The best we get in questions is “what happened coach ?” or prompts that the reporter hopes will result in someone getting in trouble “What did you think of the refs ?” No depth.

I realize its not really the reporters fault. Its the result of newsenomics. Or to paraphrase the masthead of a once great, now decent newspaper, “all the news we can now afford to find and print”.

Of course thats a shame, but it also is missing the opportunity of a lifetime.

The perception from traditional media seems to be that “media savvy youth of today” dont read , or need newspapers. They dont need the traditional 6pm news. They dont need news networks.

Thats true, they dont need them. They do want them however.

The problem is that they want them packaged to their liking – with a payoff.

Thats what media is missing with kids today. Its not the medium that acts as the circulation prevention team, its the lack of payoff and packaging.

Howard Stern has absolutely no problem discussing everything and anything happening in the world today. None. His listeners are without question better educated about the role of the FCC along with any number of important relevant issues happening today, than viewers of the CBS Evening News. Kids and adults will listen to Howard. Why ? With Howard, you get a payoff. You know if there is an angle to be exploited to find the humor, irony or hypocrisy, he will find it.

Remember when “Mike Wallace with 60 Minutes” used to strike fear in the hearts of evil doers across the world ? And viewers of 60 minutes loved it. Why ? Because we knew there was always a payoff coming. Anyone fit that role anymore ?

Journalism matters.

ABC hired Charles Gibson. Why ? Because he represents what ? Tonights stories on ABC all feature a talking head showing a picture , then talking some more , describing the picture.

A simple question. What is it that a viewer can get on world news tonight that couldnt be found on any Yahoo /Google?Yourfave newsite ? Where is the payoff ? Where is the journalism ?

Want to get younger viewers ? Go out and hire the very best recent college journalism graduates you can find. Give them a camera, a computer and an area of specialty; Business, local politics, national politics, whatever. Better yet, ask them what they think matters. Enable them to be the new “mike wallace and 60 minutes” . Tell them their only requirement is that they are equal parts journalist and adrenalin junkies. Focused on fearlessly finding the truth behind stories that matter to them, their families and friends. Guess what, even for a 21 year old, its not just about Paris Hilton, Bradgelina and the latest Rap feud.

Kids want to learn. They want to know.
Journalism matters.
But they arent going to turn in unless there is a payoff.

Does anyone in mainstream media honestly believe user generated content stops with parodies of Lazy Sunday ? Troll through myspace. Its not only for personal branding. (yes, thats what Myspace is all about. Personal Branding. MySpace = your indvidual CSS. You are what you post on your myspace page). Do a search on haditha, timor, any topic you can find in the news, and there are hundreds with an opinion about it on myspace, the other social networks and of course personal blogs like this.

Which leads to the question. Who will amass a material audience first. Young, energetic journalism graduates who post about the topics they care about on their own sites, or the main stream media.

The race is on. Unless of course you hire the people that can provide the payoff that people of all ages want.

I just hired a young, award winning journalist to partner with me on a blog that will do nothing but try to uncover corporate fraud. Young, energetic, fired up and damn the stuff i have seen so far is good. Will the payoff be about accounting gone bad ? Will it be a Skilling and Lay standing in front of the mike picture with accompanying text ? No chance.

If we found the enron scam, I would push to tell the story with a flash animation parody of Skilling and Lay to Shaggies “It wasnt me” along side a Bethany McLean/Peter Elkind quality story. Just as the movie “Enron The Smartest Guys in the Room ” told the story in a detailed and entertaining way, our goal will be to do the same.

Business is an easy place for me to start because the fraud and sithlord wannabes uncovered can not only create great stories of interest for the webite and HDNet World Report, but also allow me to buy and the sell the stocks of the company. A journalistic conflict you say ? Not any more. Not in this world. It will be fully disclosed and explained. This site is for the profit of its owners and we will buy and sell stocks that are discussed, before they are made available on the site. So make any decisions based on this information accordingly.

Facts are facts. Right is its own defense. If we can uncover companies whose stock is public and that can be bought or sold and that allows us to pay for more in depth research and effort. Im good with that.

HDNet news is also working on hiring the young and the restless to go out and produce stories that matter. Stories that have a payoff. Will we package them to reach a young audience ? Nope. HDNet isnt trolling to reduce the average age of our viewers. We dont care how old they are. We will produce news reports that matter to people of all ages. Our show Deadline is a nice little test with short , unique, irreverant stories coming from 30 plus stringers worldwide.

Journalism Matters. Im hoping the growing ignorance of this fact will make the news component of HDNet stronger and stronger and help us grow as a network
.
If you are a journalism major that can uncover stories others cant find and tell them in a way that others want to read. Send me an email with samples.

69 thoughts on “Why Journalism Matters

  1. I too like to rip on these guys and I am fed up. I wrote some words on this subject at http://www.hujoblogger.com/?p=87

    Comment by Hunter Johnson -

  2. Reading your post, felt like you were finding the words that had been floating in my brain all along. I recently graduated with a Comm. degree and am searching for a job in broadcast journalism. I would love to go international. I see the broadcasters in Lebanon and Israel and would do anything to be in their place. I want to get the story out there, not read a teleprompter like Sade and Diana, cocking my head this way and that way, moving my eyebrows, and pretending to read naturally.
    Although I do agree that you need some “greybeards” around to guide the industry in the right direction, nothing beats an energetic, determined blonde fighting against the stereotype.

    Comment by Kristy Horning -

  3. With so many tools at everyone’s disposal to disseminate their own information and their own views without being ordained as an authoritative source by the traditional media, journalism is running scared and falling back on the misguided viewpoint that only certain skilled practitioners can deliver news and information properly.

    Comment by runescape money -

  4. The NFL has instant replay to aid coaches in overturning what may seem as obvious officiating errors. However, only a very small percentage of the challenged calls are reversed. Hockey officiating is also very accurate even though the speeds of the skaters can be very swift at times.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  5. My wife left journalism 10 years ago to do social science research. After earning two advanced degrees (English and public administration), and after much reading and thinking about her former practice, she’s going back to journalism. She starts on Thursday at her old job. One of the things that excites her most is what she now feels she can bring to the job based on her deeper understanding of theory and practice. Oh, and she was a j-grad of the University of Missouri in the post-Watergate days.

    REB
    http://realestatespot.wordpress.com/

    Comment by Real Estate blogger -

  6. I couldn’t agree more, here in the UK we unfortunately seem to be following in the footsteps of the US with our dumbing down of news sources, both printed and other media. I find this especially worrying as we used to laugh at the way the US media were unable to report decent news, now we seem unwilling to recognise the same failing in ourselves. I am not sure who is to blame, is it the news sources or the consumers, are we simply getting what we want, or what we deserve, because we don’t exercise our right to support only worthy news offerings, instead we are blinded by the sensationalist and celebrity offerings of people pandering to our air-headed desires.

    Comment by TheCapedFool -

  7. Okay Mark, here is a story idea:
    Credit card processing companies are reaping huge profits from credit card theft. Processing companies who take a percentage of every transaction-legal or not. In fact, the payment processing companies profit DOUBLE from every fraudulent charge. I have proof of this as my company was robbed last year.

    Furthermore, the payment processors have the means to prevent this crime, but do nothing because they would actually loose money if the crimes were prevented.

    CV2 (pin) verification was developed by the credit card companies over 20 years ago to prevent this type of crime, but the payment processors won’t implement it. The small businesses that sold the good are 100% responsible for paying back all of the money-plus fees from the processing companies. I have a lot of documentation that supports this.

    Please put this story out because the only way to fight this crime is to prevent it from happening in the first place. It can be stopped, quickly, within days, if this story just gets out.

    Brian Mortensen

    on the web (non-profit) http://www.cv2now.com

    Comment by Brian Mortensen -

  8. Mark,
    Enjoyed your post and your subsequent thoughts and interactions with the news media. I spent 10 years as a reporter before deciding to get out for a number of reasons, some related to your thoughts, some not.
    One small piece of advice: if you move forward with this project or the rumored Dan Rather show, don’t hire journalism majors. Hire people who have studied the world and learned how it works. If they’re half-decent writers, they can learn the ropes of reporting. But critical thinking skills and content knowledge are much more important than knowing how to write a nut graf or even understanding the maestro approach to news packaging. Best of luck.

    Comment by Welch Suggs -

  9. Kendall Anderson remarked that youth may not be all that well served by more youth. As a veteran of 40+ years in what I used to call “broadcast journalism” (but, alas, can no longer bring myself to do), I tend to agree. Not that I fail to see the value in having the perspective, insight and energy of a youthful staff but I hold there is something to be said for having a few greybeards around. We’ve seen it. We’ve done it. We’ve made some gawd-awful mistakes that need not be repeated. The best journalism education I ever received was in my first paying job at the knee of a crusty St. Louis Post-Dispatch copy editor who spent his evenings with this young UPI staffer, teaching him the ropes – even though it wasn’t his job and he certainly wasn’t being paid for it. I am forever in his debt for helping launch my wonderful career.

    Comment by Tom Becherer -

  10. Mark,

    I totally agree. Give the youth the opportunity to participate. That is what we are doing at cell journalist. We allow people to send in news that is important to them. Images, Videos and complete stories of local and “breaking news” events. So far media outlets have been very responsive to this and we are excited about whats ahead

    Comment by Parker P -

  11. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the New York Times or any other newspaper is. Now, “fit to print” means nothing. The important thing is having the medium to be able to select which articles are important to an individual, and providing them with no spin. As a young person like many of my peers, I would like to see less of the generic sportswriting type questions being asked and be given a better understanding of the facts, muckraking or not.

    Comment by David Boland -

  12. This is too much work for many of us, so we mostly read/watch news in line with our own political leanings — basically drinking the cool aid from the tap.

    Comment by Kls -

  13. Hi Mark:

    You know, you point fun at the NY Times, but really the newspaper isn’t even mediocre any longer. Its much less than that.

    As citizens, we should demand more from our media…

    Comment by Dave Wakeman -

  14. Fine blog😉

    Comment by prepaid phone card -

  15. Some friends and I run a free-source news site called CRISPYNEWS.COM. It’s similar to Digg, but we’re enabling anyone who has a half-decent internet connection and passion on any topic to start his/her own community news site where visitors can vote, post and discuss the news that matters to them most.

    Comment by cnfalv -

  16. Hi Mark:

    I really try hard reading all your posts, the sports and the business ones. I agree with many of your points about entrepeneurship, and like the way you tell anything you want…

    BUT, please try to write shorter posts. I am sure you know that the internet and blogs have their own language, and one of the rules is writing concise, short articles/posts… Sure you have a lot to say, but sometimes it is too, too long, even for me…

    Good luck in the Finals.

    Comment by kiko -

  17. Thanx for info

    Comment by Learn-English -

  18. Kendall, for all that he’s old-skool, makes some valid points. News outlets have to give you the scores and the who-did-what-to-whom, but if they’re under the kind of budget cuts that most are in our current era, you can say goodbye to anything other than the basics. No fun stuff. Definitely no “Hey Rube.” If Hunter Thompson were starting out now, he’d be unemployable or, being a smart fella, he’d suck it back for a few years until he’d won the trust of an editor, which is exactly what he did, in fact.

    If you want to see creative sports reporting, I think you’ll have to turn to somewhere the profit motive hasn’t been as ruthless, like blogs. Like this one: http://jonathantu.wordpress.com/2006/05/31/urban-meyer-introduces-new-leave-before-chris-leak-gets-on-the-bus-offense/
    I don’t even LIKE football (don’t even know the rules!) but I always read this blog, just because it is so damn well-written. And is there money in it? Who’s gonna offer him a job when he doesn’t have a journalism degree?

    I’m a columnist and established writer, but when I went looking for a staff position I was told point-blank that without a journalism-specific degree there was no company in any major market that would consider hiring me, regardless of my ability as a writer. Credentialim means you’ll only get people who’ve been through ONE kind of training, which means that you’ll get ONE kind of writing.

    Corporations hate eccentricity.

    Comment by raincoaster -

  19. Mark –

    I was actually looking for a blog entry about the Mavs going to the Finals, but maybe you are still drunk/buzzed since last night 😀 Anyways, on to the topic at hand. You’ve come up with a pretty interesting solution for improving journalism. I’ve come up with my own that I thought might spark your interest…

    Some friends and I run a free-source news site called CRISPYNEWS.COM. It’s similar to Digg, but we’re enabling anyone who has a half-decent internet connection and passion on any topic to start his/her own community news site where visitors can vote, post and discuss the news that matters to them most.

    We started this site largely because like you, we saw a need for (and trend towards) “better” news. And like you, we also saw people who are hungry to make an impact and make a name for themselves. You think these people are “young journalists”, but really, we consider these people to be anyone who wants to be heard and recognized – a much broader group of individuals. And this actually leads to an important divergence from your view on the topic of blogs.

    In your past entry “Blogging vs Traditional Media”, you state that bloggers are driven by their passion and not cost. But I think anyone would tell you that his/her dream job is to get paid for what he loves to do. Wouldn’t a blogger love to get paid for blogging? Bloggers want to be discovered! This is why I think Blogging crosses over with Traditional Media. To get to my point, I think most bloggers would jump at the chance to take an Op-Ed gig offered by a major media outlet.

    Blogs have been an outlet for free and creative expression and I believe that there are emerging tools (like CRISPYNEWS.COM) that can get bloggers and anyone who wishes to make his voice heard the recognition to transform their passion into a living.

    SO although you and I are both on to something w.r.t. improving journalism, I think that bloggers and citizen journalists can be a big part of what we consider to be mainstream media.

    (Good luck in the Finals!)

    Comment by Jack -

  20. I agree with what you said, as a high school student i tend to get a lot of my news from the daily show, i also get it from newspapers the one place i don;t get it is the 6 oclock news, because to me none of the people are special. I was talking to some members of my family about Katie Couric getting that big deal to switch to cbs and we started talking about news personalities who have power or make you think or really get into a story and there were very few.

    Comment by justin shumel -

  21. Mark, I completely agree. I’m a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri, and I think that younger journalists have a distinct advantage over older journalists. We (younger journalists) tend to have a better grasp of what people want to read, but also a better grasp of what is news. A coach going off on a referee, in my opinion, is not as big a news story as Dirk going off for 50, or even J-Ho getting a career-high in rebounds. You the man, Cubes.

    Comment by Greg Tepper -

  22. God, I love the smell of idealism in the morning! Good luck.

    I think you’ll find that “payoffs” are hard to come up with regularly if you expect yourself to tell the truth — let alone be fair — and that the truth itself is far squishier than you expect. But if you start out thinking that, you’re defeated before you begin.

    Comment by P. -

  23. There’s a three-letter response to your plan for profiting on your stories: SEC

    If you want to short a company’s stock the day before you publish a story alleging fraud at that company, go for it. You might just find this is illegal, however…

    Comment by Dylan Tweney -

  24. Mark,

    The problem with the news is that it’s not the news. It’s marketing. It’s infotainment. It’s exaggeration. It bombards you with false fears. “If it bleeds it leads.” Newsworthyness should lead.

    As a 28 year old, I get tired of all the back slapping, and the self importance of the current news anchors. They’re stuck in a time warp. Katie Couric becoming the first female anchor of the evening newscast might have been big news 15-20 years ago, but no 20 something cares.

    I’d much rather use wikipedia, google news, etc to find what I’m looking for.

    Why should I get the news in little 5-10 minute chunks? Why should it fit perfectly in a half hour block? What if the story requires a longer explanation?

    Not all of it is bad. The Katrina reporting done Anderson Cooper, Shepard Smith, etc was great. It was raw and real. But most of whats on the air is plastic and hollow.

    Comment by john -

  25. Mark, you are the smartest guy in the room. I’m a white male aged 18-45, but unlike Homer, no one has been listening to me. Thank you.

    Comment by Mike -

  26. Mark:

    Been reading your blog for some time now, and I’m happy to see you championing true journalism. Money-chasing and its attendant ideologies have debased the traditional news outlets, so the time of bloggers, alt-journo site (like mine, Morphizm.com) and tech-enhanced newsgathering are taking over because of it. It’s the yin-yang philosophy put into practice: Wherever incompetence rules, a reponsive competence is created. In today’s case, that means us, the new journos who refuse to cater to mainstream “news” subjects and have no problem dispensing with protocols altogether in our search for the truth. Which just still happens to be the thing that will set you free.

    Meanwhile, on sports journos, most are hacks, as you know. I spent time as one of them back during the dotcom clusterfuck of the 20th century, and they are mostly a tired, played-out lot. But that’s because they are slaves to access, which owners and the league (strangulation defined) control. So if you truly want journos to do their job, don’t hide your players (or their opinions) from honest newsgatherers out there. It’s important to let journos take players to the mat, where Jason Terry can hit them in the nuts.🙂

    Congrats on your team’s playoff run, while we’re on it. As a hoops junkie and culture vulture, I’ve been singing the praises of the Mavs since they drafted Jason Kidd, my man from Cal. You’ve come a long way since posting the league’s record for most losses in season. Has that been broken yet?

    Thanks for your muckraking. Keep it up. David Stern needs to go, you need to go in.

    Comment by Scott -

  27. Kudos to you, Mark. I couldn’t have said it better.

    Comment by Ryan Dauzet -

  28. Bo Nash: Sensationalism in journalism was more effective during the times of Hearst and Pulitzer because it was a more conservative era. A bunch of young cats involved in “action journalism” isn’t likely to raise many eyebrows in today’s vapid, adrenaline seeking world. Ask anyone over 30 would they trust anyone in their early twentys with anything of importance and they’ll likely laugh at you. Youth and vigor is a poor substitute for quality and experience. I sincerely hope Cuban is interested in journalists OF ANY AGE who can produce quality news stories. If he’s betting on some misguided “youth movement” to give his news venture any credibility, then he’s just as arrogant, vain, and shallow as I think he his.

    Comment by James King -

  29. I couldn’t take their boring “AP or die” approach any longer. They want to keep churning out more of the same.

    Comment by Rong -

  30. Mr Anderson, for as much as you talk about the bottomline-obsessed media owners and the misfortune of Pulitzer winning journalists, one might think you have forgotten who the award was named after.

    Pulitzer and Hearst built their empires on equal parts investigative journalism and sensationalism. The broadcast empires did much the same thing. The core economics of the business have never changed, just the business models and the method of delivery. From circulation counts, to Nielsen ratings, to pageviews, this business has always been about attracting attention.

    The death of quality newspapers is just another of the cultural amputations Marshal McLuhan wrote about almost 50 years ago now. The medium is still the message.

    I think Mark and his crew have the right recipe. It’s been proven time and time and time again. The only question is will they be able to put out a news product good and entertaining enough to attract the eyeballs necessary to make the business work.

    And for all of you who think the entertainment-ization of news is a modern thing, shame on you. Please tell me how David Blaine is any different from Houdini, besides the quality of his performance? Annie Oakley from Danica Patrick? Culture has always valued entertainment, and meaningless crap like “MAN BITES DOG” has always been news.

    Good luck, Mark. This 2000 journalism school graduate can’t wait to see what you guys put together.

    Comment by Bo Nash -

  31. actually, on my Blog right before this one, the first two sentences are redundant. the second one is better though, and the third one is the only that really matters.

    Comment by Jan Hammerquist -

  32. well, yes, sujbective interpretation is good, but don’t you think it only works insofar as it reveals more things about an issue that are, in fact, objectively true? that is, is not subjective interpretation in journalism only useful insofar as it reveals something objectively possible about an issue? in this sense we can only be subjective to the extent we subject the object(s) of our study to their own reality.

    Comment by Jan Hammerquist -

  33. Hmmmm, let me see… you plan on developing a news outlet that inspires TRUST. Where have I read that before? I guess that makes me as smart as at least one billionaire. I think your obsession with youth on this front is misplaced, a great journalist is a great journalist, whatever the age. I you’re gonna embark on this venture, age shouldn’t be a delimiter. Yound and hot is overdone but good is good no matter what.

    Comment by James King -

  34. Mark Cuban ain’t even a half bit wrong when he says that journalism is in the payoff — that readers, especially young ones, want to come away with something more than a dull, reported world of watered-down conflict delivered in bite-sized-bits on the 6 o’clock news. And why shouldn’t they? Time spent is time invested, and if readers are coming to The Inquirer, we hope that they’re leaving with news not only useful and new, but information and perspective beyond what they bargained for.

    Yes, the tools are everywhere (blogs, podcasts, YouTube, hell, even good old pen, paper and a keyboard), and there are plenty of ambitious young reporters ready to take the plunge, everyday.

    Only, Mr. Cuban neglects to mention one piece of the puzzle. Case in point: The New York Inquirer. When we soft-launch on July 10th, we’ll produce week-long investigations, which will include original reporting alongside our Broken News Blog and assorted weekly humor features. We’re going to tackle privacy issues, unfair practices in the diamond trade, popular philosophy (a.k.a. sham self-help) and that’s all just in the first month. We’ve got the cojones to work the phones, and there’s plenty more ideas from whence those descended.

    Our staff, and there ain’t many of us, all have full-time jobs at major national media outlets. Smart, driven, educated people. Yet, as much as we’d like to, as much as we’re dying to, we can’t quit to run The Inquirer full-time; in turn, we can’t give the journalist-facet of the project the full-on 123.5233 % that it deserves. That’s not to say that we won’t put up the best alt-weekly on the web. We plan to, and we will. But in Mr. Cuban’s moving and inspirational manifesto, he doesn’t mention the bottom line: cash.

    So here’s our proposal, Mr. Cuban. We know who you are. We respect what you’ve done, what you’ve built and what you’ve made of yourself. It’s absolutely brilliant that you’ve hired a young muckraker, but if you’re really into this, than take a look at our business plan. Throw down for a year’s worth of The New York Inquirer. A few new computers is all the startup cash we need. And a handful of salaries to put food on the table. And we’ll give you the spirit of what Mike Wallace used to be, the relentless quest for reported truth that matters to the country. To tell the stories that, in the end, make us better as a people.

    But lest we ever forget, Mr. Cuban, it’s about the money. And the real kicker is — this is the dawn of journalism on the Internet, and in no time, The Inquirer, by taking as its mission statement exactly the driving forces you’re highlighting, could be making money.

    We’ll send you some samples.

    http://www.nyinquirer.com

    Comment by A. C. Bast -

  35. Thank you Mark. It’s good to know someone realizes that not all young adults care about Paris Hilton, Brangelina, and sound bites.

    Comment by Sue -

  36. Interesting blog.

    Payoff (as you describe it) is key, I’d say, in any product that is not a basic necessity. A pair of discount blue jeans will cover your body, but some people want the payoff of others identifying a name brand on their bottom.

    This is the distinction – the news in traditional formats is no longer a necessity, as you pointed out, rather it is a product. One can easily read the news they are interested in from any number of websites in a much shorter time than watching an entire news broadcast. Of course, this is still journalism.

    You also recognize this, obviously, because the young journalist you hired will begin reporting on a blog, which is not traditional media, and will make stories available to your world news broadcast.

    So maybe the point of this comment is that we don’t want or need traditional news outlets; however, we definitely want and need news reporting in some format.

    Comment by Rebecca -

  37. Deadline is a great show! The host is very attractive and funny..

    Comment by Port Orange Real Estate -

  38. As another who thinks that the news industry is due for big changes, thought you’d enjoy this hi-larious vid on the inner workings of a newspaper:

    http://www.texasgigs.com/blogs/notmusic/2006/jun/01/newspaper/

    Comment by Mike Orren -

  39. A few thoughts …

    1. Gaining younger viewers is more than about a “payoff” as you suggest. If that’s all it is, then what you have is entertainment. This isn’t to say that news has to be stuffy and boring, but if all that’s needed to get younger viewers is some sort of “Snap!” moment at the end, then this society is screwed. (It may be already, but that’s for a different discussion.)

    2. I think many people know that most “true” news isn’t “objective” – everyone has his or her own biases that seep through in one way or another. And while I understand how having those biases transparent upfront can be a good thing (just look at the explosive popularity of blogs to see how it can work, and work well) the problem is that, far too often, most people confuse fact with opinion.

    For example, Rush Limbaugh has millions of listeners who take his every word as gospel. The problem is that he rarely gets the facts right. What we get are millions of misinformed people who have no clue of what is really going on.

    It’s a fine line, to be sure, and I’m not sure I trust corporate owned media to walk it. Which brings me to …

    3. The biggest problem I’ve seen (as someone who studied Journalism, has worked at a small paper, and run my own blog) is that the traditional media worries about two things: viewers/readers/listeners and money.

    Because of this, the pressure from the top filters down to the bottom and what we get is almost always incomplete, often shoddy, and occasionally high-and-mighty reporting. Or, we get stories that are, in reality, PR from some company that comes across undisclosed as news (see the report from the Center for Media and Democracy here:
    http://www.prwatch.org/fakenews/execsummary).

    There really are no easy solutions to all these points, but I honestly think blogs are at least heading in the right direction (for the most part). And if traditional media can adjust (the WaPo has gotten as close as any – still not perfect, but close) then all will be well. And if not?

    Well, all those pretty talking heads will have to get real jobs.

    P.S. Sorry for the thesis … got a bit carried away, didn’t I?

    Comment by Unholy Moses -

  40. “Every game is its own ecosystem ”

    I’d hate to have to survive in the Ecosystem that would be the Kansas City Royals vs. Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. That’s not reporting, that’s a message from the Gulag. And of course the same question each game, “What keeps you from hanging yourself in the locker room?”

    “Business is an easy place for me to start because the fraud and sithlord wannabes uncovered can not only create great stories of interest for the webite and HDNet World Report, but also allow me to buy and the sell the stocks of the company.”

    Here’s my question – how soon before you expose a fraud, will you be willing to dump the stock – if you’ve already bought it? How soon will you buy a stock before a blue ribbon article? Will you be disclosing your purchases and sales in relation to each article? Where is that line between investigative reporting and insider trading?

    Comment by Joe Corey -

  41. My problem with journalism today is the lack of a big-picture summarization in news stories.

    A lot of people honestly don’t care what’s going on outside of their little bubble. One of my theories on this is that people can’t see how each and every story affects the big picture.

    I would like to see editors treat the stories their publications/stations present as pieces to a giant puzzle- the puzzle of the future.

    The end of the story, the end of a broadcast, on the editor’s page… somewhere there needs to be a place where the paper can put together the puzzle pieces and find predictions of how our future could be.

    Journalism teachers at UTA aren’t thinking that way at all. That’s why I changed my minor from journalism to graphics. I couldn’t take their boring “AP or die” approach any longer. They want to keep churning out more of the same.

    I applaud you for looking at different approaches.

    Comment by Bob Arlauskas -

  42. Hey Mark,

    I’m curious what your opinion is of the whole google-clickfraud issue is? People around here (Silicon Valley) and up in NY obviously think it’s a non-issue, but bloggers such as http://www.fuckedgoogle.com, have a different perspective. I think has potential, but it’s hard to seperate fact from fiction between google fanboys and google haters, there’s not a lot of objective ground.

    Comment by Will H -

  43. You are dead on Mark, that’s the reason why I will watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report to find out politics news at midnight rather than watching whoever is on CNN. It doesn’t have to be boring to be “quality” journalism.

    Comment by Jordan Garner -

  44. I am posting this here because I really don’t really know where else to begin. My post is in regards to the NBA officiating. Am I the only one who believes that the NBA has the worst officiating of all of professional sports? In slow motion replays shown of baseball plays show that umpires are almost always correct in their calls. Even when balls and strikes are somewhat questionable, we find most umpires to be very consistent and they are judging a ball roughly 3 inches in diameter that is coming at them at nearly 100 mph. The NFL has instant replay to aid coaches in overturning what may seem as obvious officiating errors. However, only a very small percentage of the challenged calls are reversed. Hockey officiating is also very accurate even though the speeds of the skaters can be very swift at times. But the NBA officiating is neither accurate nor consistant. This is made painfully clear by the outcry of fans when replays are shown on the jumbotrons. The inconsistency is obvious as well…Why should a veteran get a call that a rookie does not, or superstar like Shaq will get away with a blatant knockdown when a relative unknown like Dampier does not? Is there a double standard rule in the NBA’s officiating rule book? How can David Stern sit and watch a game in which one team is saddled with 9 personal fouls in one quarter, while the other commits only 1 and not see a problem? I can honestly say that I have never witnessed an NBA game in which a team has committed only 1 foul (assessed or not) in a full quarter of action. Another question…how is it that refs continually make calls on plays far away from themselves when another ref right on top of the play does not? Arent they supposed to have certain ranges of responsibility. if the guy at the top of the key is looking deep under the basket, who is looking at what is going on at the top of the key? One last comment…from having watched NBA games on tv and in person for a couple of decades plus, I have come the conclusion that a team that is attacking the rim consistently and driving the lane consistently will generally draw a few more fouls than a perimeter shooting team. Why then, when DeNo was driving the lane and getting taken to the floor in game four did he not get the benefit of a few calls? And how in heck, with three officials on the floor could Steve Nash basically take DeNo’s jersey off and throw him to the hardwood and it not be seen by any of them? I’m sure it was seen and that the officials determined in their infinite wisdom that it was incidental contact and not worthy of a whistle. Bottom line…NBA officiating stinks and something needs to be done about it. Sticking wiht the status quo simply will not do. The game is getting faster and players are getting younger…shouldn’t the refs be doing the same (hint, hint…Dick Bavetta)?

    Comment by Michael Hough -

  45. Couple of things to keep in mind:

    1) What we see on the news today isn’t news. Most of it is sensationalism or slant on some particular interest. If it were all news, we wouldn’t have politically leaning broadcast stations. News is facts.

    2) Most news agencies are a part of production companies that function on the “for-profit” bottom line. And therein lies a problem. Journalism shouldn’t be about generating revenue with news. It should be about telling people about stories of interest and impact in their lives.

    3) Journalism isn’t news. Don’t equate the two. One is the event or events worthy of being reported on to a particular audience. The other is the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media. They may go hand in hand, but they are not the same.

    –Lisboa

    Comment by Kevin Lisboa -

  46. Right on, Mark. That’s why I like people like Stephen A Smith. GO MAVS!!!

    Comment by Will -

  47. Mark, your comments today and last week signal to me that as an advertiser you are disatisfied and as a media guy, you are setting out to resolve the disatisfaction yourself.

    I can’t stand to listen to Howard Stern, but I agree he gives his listeners a payoff.

    Howard’s show and your new projects are both delivering something new that audiences value. And you are ignoring the old parts of the news business that the media companies are stuck on, but that fewer readers/consumers value.

    It looks like you and Howard (and others who are doing similar things) are disrupting the media sector. Not unlike what Dell did to the PC business.

    Mike
    http://www.OnDisruption.com

    Comment by Michael Urlocker -

  48. Mark, let me disagree on one more point.

    From a teevee news perspective, the problem is not a lack of youthful exuberance — but instead too much youth.

    Salaries are painfully low in broadcast news, once you get past the pretty faces on the anchor desk. There’s too much competition for every other reporting and producing position, and most markets can’t hand on to anyone for any length of time.

    The kids who make up the majority of newsrooms are typical in every other way, but lack very significant areas of life experience. When your stable of talent is almost exclusively apartment-dwellers, unmarried, and childless, you see great gaps in the coverage of schools, property issues, zoning, and many other important civic interests.

    I spent too many years in the editorial meetings, and you would be shocked to find the disconnect between what young journalists want to cover and what the general audience wants to watch.

    My two cents…

    Comment by Ike -

  49. Kendall,

    It’s precisely the attitude that only particular people are capable of delivering quality journalism that’s killing the industry. For too long, the journalism business has dictated to people what’s important and who they should listen to, all under the facade of objectivity and authority.

    Now, with so many tools at everyone’s disposal to disseminate their own information and their own views without being ordained as an authoritative source by the traditional media, journalism is running scared and falling back on the misguided viewpoint that only certain skilled practitioners can deliver news and information properly.

    Your intrinsic dismissal of Mark’s stance because he’s not a part of the club is symptomatic of the industry as a whole, and will ultimately lead to its downfall. Journalism is in dire need of new blood, new ideas and finally to own up to the fact that it doesn’t have all the answers. Clinging to outmoded business models and ways of doing business — and discrediting anybody who disagrees by saying they don’t understand because they’re not a “journalist” — is pointless and won’t help.

    Mark, great post. More thoughts here – http://c-lo.net/?p=133

    Comment by Carlo -

  50. Mark,

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog but I’ve got to disagree with you here. As a 28-year old that follows a wide range of both old and new media outlets, I believe that the largest problem plaguing journalists today is that there is too much blurring of the lines between reporting and agenda-driven opinion-making.

    Should journalists use their best efforts to hunt for the most relevant and important stories possible? Absolutely. However, as David stated above, the role of a journalist is to report the facts so that the viewer or reader is allowed to come up with his or her own opinion. The goal of every news gathering operation should be to eliminate any trace of bias or agenda-pushing from its reporting rather than to trumpet it.

    Opinion-based commentary on blogs and editorial pages can provide fantastic and engaging viewpoints. That commentary, however, should be distinct from the reporting function of a news organization. It’s pretty easy to find people who can shout out their opinions or push their own agendas (case in point: I also have my own blog), but we desperately need true professional journalists who can filter through the biases to report the real facts. I hope we don’t lose sight of the vital need for such reporting in the wake of the fervor to create more “exciting” news vehicles for young people.

    Comment by Frank the Tank -

  51. As a former Dallas Morning News senior writer, an adjunct journalism instructor at SMU and independent communications consultant to some of this city’s most respected organizations, I can tell you that Mr. Cuban’s attack on journalists won’t improve news coverage. Nor will his recipe for hiring young guns to report things that young readers will deem payoff. While the influx of young journalists is a welcome not to mention never-ending occurrence in journalism, the real problem is that the mits are off and the bottom-line obsessed media owners/managers have cut into the bone and much of the public doesn’t seem to care enough to show that they do in fact value the kind of journalism Mr. Cuban touts (and, to his credit, is undertaking, based on his references herein.)

    The NYTimes reported last month that 2,000 newspaper jobs were eliminated in 2005. A few years earlier it was just 500. Today, you can find Pulitzer Prize- and other award-winning journalists in their 40s and 50s – not young – teaching at local colleges, going to law school or directing news in non-main stream publications such as the Fort Worth Weekly (two Pulitzer Prize winners there). Add to this the quality reporters laid off at our local paper and through out the country – the journalistically stellar Philadelphia Inquirer is on the chopping block and expected to be cut to bits because it’s award-winning reporting doesn’t pay news execs enough.

    This is the problem. And replacing all the older journalists with young whipper snappers might get you some good stories and lots of new energy but put my former colleagues in their 40s, 50s and 60s up against those kiddos and the quality of journalism would be incomparable. Journalists see the devastation that’s going on but most do not.

    It’s not as simple as sports writers who ask shallow questions, Mr. Cuban.

    -Kendall Anderson

    Comment by K -

  52. When’s HDNet going to be available through Comcast?

    Comment by Nate -

  53. When I see the chicks on the court interviewing players, coaches, etc. etc. I hit my MUTE button real fast and fill in the words, “So, what does your team need to do to win?” DER! MAKE MORE BASKETS! DEFENSE!
    “How do you feel about your loss?”
    IT SUCKS!
    I want them to ask stuff like, “So Kwame, you’ve been hanging around Kobe a little too long… RAPE CHARGES??? harharhar! Have you learned NOTHING?”
    Sure I’d be hated, but MAN I’d love to be on the floor asking my own kind of questions!
    There’s a chick Rachel that covers basketball like she’s reporting traffic on the evening news. BORING. No emotion attached, and so carefully enunciated I want to puke.
    Dick Vitale can be annoying, but I like how passionate he is. That would be me. Yelling away. Only the girl version of it.
    That’s why I like Charles Barkley. Loved seeing him “interview” Kobe. I like how he doesn’t always stay to what’s “safe” and isn’t afraid to call it like it is!

    Comment by TOR PARKER -

  54. why can howard stern say whatever he wants but mainstream news media outlets can’t? they have to answer to the bottom line. as many have mentioned over the years, as long as news is a for-profit industry (not to mention part of a public company), news reporting is inherently flawed because of inevitable conflict of interests. would abc really report a story that discredits a report made by espn? or even one that criticizes their sponsors? the news for-profit business takes the “get the facts right”/objective journalism idealism right out of many reporters. like idealistic law school graduates suddenly numbed by the bombardment of gruntwork they suddenly have to do for partners, journalists catch on quick that they service their editors, and their editors’ bosses care about ad space, advertisers, and the corporate bottom line, not to mention their own political leanings.

    in a perfect world the news would be non-profit and every story would have a point and counterpoint to give multiple persepectives/context. can this ever happen? we already have a non-profit — pbs. but even they have critics, notably the recent complaints by republicans about left-leaning reports.

    so what to we do? get your news from multiple outlets and compare and contrast, then decide for yourself which story is compromised by conflicts/agenda. this is too much work for many of us, so we mostly read/watch news in line with our own political leanings — basically drinking the cool aid from the tap.

    we live in the information age, which is great because we have more access to the truth, but it is also confusing because it allows for more disinformation than ever.

    there has to be a better way than the for-profit news business that exists in many places today.

    Comment by db -

  55. M-
    It is about time someone with influence and some grey’s (sorry their) realizes that the younger generation (i.e. <30) have wants, desires and needs that are more in depth than the eye candy baby food that is served up by the mainstream media. I truly believe that the younger generation needs to be given more opportunities to show there stuff. Bottom-line is that the younger generation is generall more informed, better read, and less easily swayed about major olitical issues. AND IT IS UNFORTUNATE that the mainstream media/politccal machine/influencers are not inviting young people to the table to give perspectives.

    Comment by Andrew Cohen -

  56. On sports writers as journalists – Aaron Brown spoke in front of my journalism class at the Evergreen State College back in the 80’s. Aaron was then a Seattle news anchor. I remember vividly a question about sports journalism and Aaron’s reply with a sneer “Well I’d hardly call them journalists.”

    Comment by Diane Ensey -

  57. So you are ok with buying and selling stocks based on probable insider information that your investigative journalists will uncover? Interesting.

    Comment by David -

  58. Right on, Mark.

    Comment by Dawn -

  59. Great blog Mr. Cuban. This is something that has been on my mind for a while.

    I reckon a lot of it has to do with the information age we live in. We all want things packaged, quick and conveniently served to us. Admittedly, the minute I know a Mavs game has finished I scour the net for any report I can find on it.

    I guess we are spoiled because we can easily access all this information. I believe our generation needs AND wants good journalism.

    Actually, now that we are on the topic it is not just journalism that we want AND need. TV, video games, globalisation and the likes are making carbon copies out of today’s youth.

    I think we need to get away from all this convenience to save the next generation.

    I am not proposing anarchy a la Tyler Durden in Fight Club, but we need to move away from heavily corporate-driven societies.

    Comment by Michael Schaefer -

  60. When you say the “only requirement is that they are equal parts journalist and adrenalin junkies” it makes me think of the fact that I must have numerous FireFox tabs open with sites like DiggDot.us, IMDbPro, and various news feeds so I can keep up on ALL of those everyday updates, ideas and endless media madness. There is so much going on around each and every corner that one simply cannot just tune into a favorite television channel and even begin to think he might possibly stay on top of all the necessary learning, investigating, thinking, pondering, politics, pop culture, media, evolution, gadgetry, music, news, film and mindless gossip required in this ever-deepening society. It won’t slow down for any of us.
    Oh yeah, and we must also attempt to remain employed… Challenging, to say the very least.

    Comment by Robb Hand -

  61. I think your points are dead on. I’m a journalism student at UT at Austin and even I get bored with some stories in the newspaper. Good luck with everything because it’s true – journalism really does matter.

    Comment by Mary -

  62. A couple points:

    1) The “sizzle” on the steak of youth-oriented journalism is almost always loads of idealism. Although it’s fresh and sometimes right, I just want the facts. Not Fox News or MSNBC hothead crap, just the facts. Attractive youth struggling with issues is on Real World. SO…how about an approach where HDnet, utilizing High Def expertise, offers something the tired old news hacks haven’t utilized HD for yet? Just good news with a great Discovery-channel documentary quality presentation.

    2) The stock activity/corporate insight angle at it’s core isn’t a conflict of interest. It’s a breech of what has long been known as journalistic integrity. But that’s ok. Propoganda machines are prevalent in history. Even today, late night TV has me pledging 1000s to missionaries, getting monthly colon cleanings, and buying books to cure cancer and hiccups at the same time. But those are cheap comparisons. It does sound like an entertaining blog (and HD show). But calling it journalism is a stretch–it’s entertainment.

    Comment by David -

  63. Mark,

    I agree with most of your points, its scary how few heavy hitting journalists are remaining. RSS or your “feed” will eventually shake this out. Once we pull all of our content through our filter of interest, we will have a direct effect on the news as well. Will “journalists” change their point of view because they get more subscriptions. RSS killed the newspaper star.

    Comment by RamZ -

  64. I think Sekar touched on it earlier, but I think that those of my generation (college-age) who bother to keep up with the news are put off with the blatant sensationalism promoted especially by cable news networks. The top stories on any given day, which range from celebrity idolatry to missing girls in Aruba, ultimately have little impact on our society, and on the psyche, and the viewers have become desensitized to the point of apathy about that which truly matters.

    Comment by Dan -

  65. Mark,
    I thought most of your post was right on. People my age (29) and younger don’t want the same old tiredhead boring journalism of an ABC World News Tonight. We definitely want news with a payoff. I think this is why blog journalism is taking off. Just like some people gravitate towards Daily Kos or whatever, I’m happy to get most of my news through the filter of Michelle Malkin and Powerline and other conservative news blogs. I want my news with a slant (my slant – that’s the payoff) – and I want to know up front what that slant is. I’m capable of figuring out the rest.

    Here’s where I jump off though. I do have a problem with the premise of HDNet World Report and the conflict of interest. Just because you are up front about what you are doing doesn’t change the fact that it brings into question the integrity of the journalism. Because you’ll stand to make money off any accusations you make – regardless of whether or not they are accurate or fairly reported – I think it will be hard to trust the reporting to be just about uncovering fraud and not to be inventing fraud where none exists just to make a buck. Doesn’t seem like there’s an incentive to be truthful/fair if you stand to profit either way. Take the money making scheme out of the equation and I think it’s a winner though.

    gSg

    Comment by Robin -

  66. The reason there is very little journalism is because TV has turned into infotainment. Why has this happen ? Because this is what makes money. Mark you make some very valid points but you fail to understand that most Americans simply don’t care about or have time for journalism anymore. Most Americans don’t get home by 6pm to watch the evening news like 20 years ago. Its become more a question of survival and working for a living.

    Its ironic you refer to Lay/Skilling. We may as well rename Wall Street to Fraud Street. I’m glad your trying to use to fortunes to change the world rather than perpetuate it. Unfortunately your votes for president in 2000 and 2004 didn’t reflect your true values and created problems that necessitate even more change as we continue to head in the wrong direction as a nation. Maybe one day journalism will matter again to Americans but it probably won’t be for another generation.

    Comment by Sekar -

  67. The premise does not work for sports reporting, though and that is why ‘game oriented’ sports journalism can’t get beyond “The best we get in questions is “what happened coach ?” or prompts that the reporter hopes will result in someone getting in trouble “What did you think of the refs ?” ” There is nothing that can be reviewed in oration that can that come close to capturing the significance of what transpires on the field/court/ice Reporters cannot coax it, players and coaches cannot describe it

    Comment by Steve Murphy -

  68. LoL, I want to see the flash animation parody of Skilling and Lay to Shaggies “It wasnt me”

    Comment by Philip Chang -

  69. Without journalism so many of the important issues and events wouldn’t be fully interpreted or understood. Journalism is a way to let the mind shape its own opinion on different topics instead of just being ignorant or indifferent to anything beyond basic topics. There are a lot of journalists who don’t accomplish this and just relay information you already you know over again. Instead of criticizing a lot of journalists for not being a great athlete themsleves, be appreciative for their intriguing thought process that usually leads to you forming an opinion of your own, which accomplishes most writer’s goal in the first place.

    Comment by Ron Jumper -

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