In my business I grew up with competition: At my first journalism job with the daily paper in Fort Lauderdale, we were required by the business editor — Mr. D. Kaine Stankovich — to read the competition.
In fact, we drew straws to go down to the corner drugstore and grab the Miami Herald’s “bulldog” edition when it arrived at 8 p.m. every night. Sometimes we had to return to work to chase down a story. After doing this a few times, you worked hard not to get “scooped.”
Here, I don’t see much of that — never have. Despite the competition from blogs and other news-gathering groups, The Union and KNCO still operate like they have media monopolies in a sleepy little burgh.
There’s a real arrogance to it too: Like if it didn’t get announced there, it didn’t happen. Anybody who reads this blog, Yubanet and other “alternative” media can attest that it happens regularly — including now with prominent obituaries. There also are efforts to discredit you (AKA insecurity) if you dare to bring it up. (Memo to self: more kevlar undies, please).
Here’s the latest example, involving a high-profile legal case that has spilled into the local political elections:
When I was over in Auburn on Thursday, Yubanet posted a story that parts of the AtPac lawsuit against Aptitude and the county were dismissed.
“Indeed, the complaint fails to allege any facts that would indicate what constitutes an unauthorized access of the software by County of Nevada; the complaint merely states there were limits on how County of Nevada could use it by making copies of it or disclosing it to third parties,” the suit read.
This is the same lawsuit that has stirred up dust in the clerk-recorder’s race, because candidate Barry Pruett had represented AtPac in the bidding process.
When the suit was filed in February, The Union reported it on the front page — but with a glaring omission, Pruett’s previous association with AtPac, as I noted here. It caught up later.
Yubanet posted the story about parts of this same lawsuit being dismissed at 2:53 p.m. on Thursday, so there was plenty of time to chase it down from Friday’s print edition. All it required was a visit to the web — not a trip to the drugstore as in my “cub reporter” days.
But I can’t find it anywhere in The Union, much less in the same prominent place it first appeared on the front page. Same goes with KNCO. (I did see a story about Tom McClintock winning a chamber of commerce award, however).
One of the readers on this blog has posted a comment with further information — “Placer County is eliminating the AtPac system as well,” he writes, a decision that throws cold water on Pruett’s “shop local” argument.
He also provides links to the documents, thanks to the web.
So there you have it: a “case study” in a prominent local legal dispute that shows why we need media competition, even in our small media market.
This is a management problem, by the way, that rests squarely with the paper’s Editor — not its staff. You have to set a tone as a newsroom leader (that is, if the Editor discredits the competition, the staff will too).
Let’s face it: The internet is causing a needed media revolution around here. Rather than ask what would you do without the major media, the question should be, what would you do without the rest? Change, it is a comin’.
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