Media ownership


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Does ownership of a media outlet matter? Have a look at the ways changing from corporate to independent ownership, and vice versa, preceded changes in staffing and circulation. This slideshow also considers why it matters where news originates.

Published in: News & Politics, Business
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Media ownership

  1. 1. Family vs. Chain A Tale of Two Newspapers: The Santa Fe New Mexican and The Des Moines Register
  2. 2. Media ownership <ul><li>Does it matter who owns a newspaper? </li></ul><ul><li>How does ownership affect the functions of a newspaper? </li></ul><ul><li>The case of the Des Moines Register: What happens when a chain buys a family-owned paper? </li></ul><ul><li>The case of the Santa Fe New Mexican: What happens when a chain sells a paper back to the family that sold it? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who has a stake in news?
  4. 4. Who has a stake in news? Anybody who … <ul><li>Is portrayed in the news (newsmakers). </li></ul><ul><li>Produces it (journalists). </li></ul><ul><li>Consumes it (readers, viewers). </li></ul><ul><li>Acts on it (voters, businesses, social service organizations, public officials, faith communities). </li></ul><ul><li>Tries to influence it (public relations workers, advocacy groups, political groups). </li></ul><ul><li>Is left out of it (marginalized populations). </li></ul><ul><li>Profits from it (owners, shareholders). </li></ul>
  5. 5. Functions of a newspaper <ul><li>I NFORM about current events. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish THE correct, verifiable RECORD . </li></ul><ul><li>Establish baseline pool of COMMON KNOWLEDGE. </li></ul><ul><li>Stimulate PUBLIC DISCUSSION of ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>EXPOSE abuse of public trust ( “W atchdog role ”) . </li></ul><ul><li>Provide FORUM for exchange of ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>PUBLICIZE events, people. </li></ul><ul><li>REFLECT the community. </li></ul><ul><li>VALIDATE people/institutions/ideas. </li></ul>
  6. 7. Commitment to quality <ul><li>“ A strong and fearless newspaper will have readers and a newspaper that has readers will have advertisements. That is the only newspaper formula worth working to. ... After making all allowances, the only newspaper popularity that counts in the long run is bottomed on public respect.” </li></ul><ul><li>Editor Harvey Ingham, 1915 editorial </li></ul>
  7. 8. Register Editor Harvey Ingham, right, and Publisher Gardner Cowles in 1937. Source: Iowa Historical Society
  8. 9. The Cowles Era <ul><li>“ W ithout good newspapers, I doubt whether any people under modern conditions can preserve free institutions. ... The good newspaper must be honest. It must be fair. It must be truly efficient in every respect in the job of delivering to a free people at the maximum speed the information by which they alone can manage their common affairs themselves as a self-governing group. ” — Gardner Cowles Sr. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Jay “Ding” Darling, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartoons, 1918. Source: Covering Iowa: The History of the Des Moines Register and Tribune Company, 1849-1985.
  10. 11. The Register used every means at its disposal to get the news out to each of Iowa’s 99 counties, including the Chicago and North Western Railroad. Source: Covering Iowa.
  11. 12. 1966: Register executives consult the Des Moines Sunday Register Transportation Map, showing the distribution routes for carriers across the state. Source: Covering Iowa.
  12. 13. 1930: Good News II ferried photographers and reporters to the far corners of the state and helped the Register live up to its slogan: The Newspaper Iowa Depends Upon. Source: Covering Iowa.
  13. 14. 1986: Gannett CEO Al Neuharth, front left, and Register Publisher David Kruidenier announce the sale. Source: Des Moines Register.
  14. 18. Dissent from the ranks <ul><li>“ This is a risk-taking, innovative company. … What I wish would be Gannett’s next innovation would be to worry about all their stakeholders as much as they, of course, need to worry about shareholders; that is, to worry about the citizens in the communities they serve, to worry about their employees, and to worry about their advertisers, but all equally with the shareholders.” — Register Editor Geneva Overholser, 1992, accepting Gannett’s award for the best editor in the chain </li></ul>Geneva Overholser
  15. 23. Robert McKinney, owner and publisher of the Santa Fe New Mexican. Source: Taos News.
  16. 24. Robin McKinney Martin, current owner and publisher of the Santa Fe New Mexican, at a database reporting workshop sponsored by Investigative Reporters and Editors. Source: IRE
  17. 25. How does ownership affect a newspaper’s … <ul><li>Staffing? </li></ul><ul><li>Training? </li></ul><ul><li>Content? </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships with the local community? </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of the newspaper? </li></ul>
  18. 26. Industry observers “ Now, it's a numbers game, and you have more aggressive managers. It used to be that saying, 'I'm the editor and it's the right thing to do' trumped the numbers. It doesn't anymore.” — Carl Sessions Stepp, University of Maryland journalism professor “ If it’s a cheap product, people figure it out.” — Steven Ross, Columbia University professor of journalism
  19. 27. Why do newspapers even matter? <ul><li>Most news originates in newspapers (Pew study of Baltimore media ecosystem, 2009) . </li></ul><ul><li>General interest papers: 48% </li></ul><ul><li>Specialty newspapers: 13% </li></ul><ul><li>Local TV and their Web sites: 28% </li></ul><ul><li>Local radio: 7% </li></ul><ul><li>New media (Twitter, blogs, social media): 5% </li></ul><ul><li>But: As chains slash newspaper staffs, they generate less and less original content and react to press releases instead. </li></ul>
  20. 28. How do we improve on this? <ul><li>Save newspapers? </li></ul><ul><li>Create successors that take up their former issue (and go beyond it)? </li></ul><ul><li>Other solutions? </li></ul>