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History of Beat Reporting


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History of Beat Reporting

  1. 1. Introduction <ul><li>“What role did beat reporting play and what is being lost? </li></ul>
  2. 2. What is a beat? <ul><li>Specific areas – either geographical or topical. </li></ul><ul><li>“ beat” is a term used to describe a regular route for a sentry or policeman. </li></ul><ul><li>Good beat reporters become translators and interpreters, making information that otherwise might be obscure to general public.” (Deborah Potter, exec. Dir NewsLab) </li></ul><ul><li>Beat reporters must have the ability to understand the institutions that dominate the beat. </li></ul><ul><li>Beats: science, courts, sports, business, </li></ul>
  3. 3. History <ul><li>“The newspaper became a tollgate between the local retailer and local consumers.” (Hindman) </li></ul><ul><li>As a result, publishers were able to employ knowledgeable reporters to cover specialized beats </li></ul><ul><li>1982 Gannett launched USA Today, nationwide, general-audience paper. </li></ul>
  4. 4. 1860 Times Model: “ A papers proper business is to publish fact” Investigative muckraking became big. 20 th Century: Golden Age, Newspaper consolidation, created wide range of readers, spurned beats Partisan Papers of the 19 th Century: “ The business of Printing has chiefly to do with men’s opinions” Franklin ,
  5. 5. Current Dilemmas of Beat Reporting <ul><li>“ This shrinkage of specialized beats reduces the marketplace of ideas and interpretations as more papers cut jobs and “buy content elsewhere.” (PEJ) </li></ul><ul><li>Reporters who once concentrated on one beat now frequently have two or three. </li></ul>
  6. 6. PEJ 2008 <ul><li>“ Meet the American daily newspaper of 2008: The staff is under great pressure, has less institutional memory, less knowledge of the community, of how to gather news and the history of individual beats. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Newsroom executives who say they have eliminated jobs that cover specialized beats, such as film or music critics, book reviewers, columnists, national or foreign correspondents, said they had in many cases replaced newsroom-written contributions with syndicated or news agency content – content they get a fraction of the cost of producing with staff. </li></ul>
  7. 7. BEAT HOPE <ul><li>“The heart of the work of local news organizations will be beats. Beat reporters will not just be producing stories. They will open the process of news in blogs. They will work collaboratively with experts, bloggers, and people in the community.” Jeff Jarvis </li></ul>
  8. 8. Reporter+Social Network=Richer Beat <ul><li>Jay Rosen of </li></ul><ul><li>“What I mean by a smart mob or social network is a group of people who are knowledgeable, diverse and well-placed within the pale of the beat, and who are then organized via the net to help in the production of new knowledge.” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Prophetic Views: <ul><li>“ Sports and business sections will be broken and sold out separately, like chicken parts at the grocery store. (Philip Meyer, “The Vanishing Newspaper”) </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think we’re going to see an increase in very dense but narrow sites of information for which people will pay something online.” (Jay Smith, Cox Newspaper chain) </li></ul><ul><li>This though, can alienate readers based on class differences. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Dangers of “Insideritis” <ul><li>If “organizations come to resemble the organizations they are in conflict with,” as political scientist James Q. Wilson said, press and government fit this. </li></ul><ul><li>The coming together of national journalists and those they report about is the by-product of a forced march to professionalism and specialization in both trades.” </li></ul><ul><li>Specialized education is common on certain beats (among Washington legal affairs reporters, 64% have graduate degrees, primarily from law schools.) </li></ul><ul><li>Specialist journalists work differently from traditional generalists. Specialists demand more autonomy, which means that control of the product will gradually shift from editors to news gatherers. (185, Stephen Hess) </li></ul><ul><li>They are more satisfied with their work, so they stay in company longer, preventing newer generation to come up. </li></ul><ul><li>Other problems: small conversations. “In which members of a scholarly community speak mainly to one another in language so specialized and full of jargon that it is largely unintelligible to the public. (David Ricci, political scientist) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Jeff Jarvis Video about Beat Reporting <ul><li> </li></ul>