By PAT LOUISE / Twenty-nine years ago the Woodstock Sentinel, the daily newspaper in Woodstock, Illinois, merged with another daily, leaving the city of 25,000 an hour north of Chicago without its own newspaper. At the time, Cheryl Wormley and a friend worked for the local school district. Neither had any journalism experience. Still, they quit their jobs, took second mortgages on their homes and launched a weekly newspaper, the Woodstock Independent, in April 1987. Where a daily failed, a weekly succeeded. And across the country, the story of the Independent follows a pattern repeated by community weekly newspapers: They not only survive but thrive. While the constant retreat of large daily newspapers in coverage, content and circulation creates a belief that newspapers no longer matter and journalism is dying, community papers continue to be a solid presence in their communities.
By GEORGE SALAMON / The first issue appeared on March 4. It was, as the editors noted, the first launch of a national magazine in 20 years, since Sports Illustrated in 1954. In an introductory note to that first issue the editors did not talk about how their publication might propel the advance of the rising “celebrity-gossip-scandal” journalism and contribute to the decline of “general interest” publications (think of LIFE, Look and Collier’s). Their goals were more modest. “Journalism has, of course, always noted and dealt with people,” they wrote, “but we dedicate our entire editorial content to that pursuit.” The American people were ready and eager to get away from issues and conflict about them to the “up close and personal” approach television was pursuing. Ideas, history and social, political and economic matters could remain the province of those pointy-headed pseudo-intellectuals in Washington and on campuses. But what kinds of people would PEOPLE reveal to us?
I fell in love with the Alton Telegraph newsroom. Who wouldn’t, with its dangling cables, stacks of yellowing newsprint, reference books – that’s right, BOOKS – on cabinets with wheels and reporters’ desks adorned with the bric-a-brac from years of school-board meetings, election nights and city council debates?
BY PAT LOUISE / When former New York Times Executive Editor Abraham “A.M.” Rosenthal died in May 2006, his obituary lauded his numerous accomplishments during his 56 years at the newspaper. He had won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting and led the paper through coverage of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers. He also was credited as initiating the now industry standard practice of running corrections in a fixed spot for readers to find. The New York Times chose Page 2 for its corrections, and many newspapers followed. He and the Times began the practice in 1972.
BY WILLIAM FREIVOGEL / The Missouri Senate fell one vote short of overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would have made it a crime to print the name of a person who owned a gun. The bill also would have made it a crime for Missouri law enforcement officials to enforce federal gun laws thought to violate the Second Amendment.
St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon announced today their intention to explore forming an alliance to better serve the community through journalism.
Earlier this year, ABC News aired a news segment exposing the manner in which Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB) is produced by Beef Products Inc. The story, which was designed to educate consumers about the ammonia gas treatment LFTB receives as part of the production process, questioned the safety of the meat product. (Editor’s note: This is part three of a four-part series on the defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. against ABC News. It looks at how media are covering the story.)
As legal teams for both sides prepare for the oncoming duel over alleged defamation and product disparagement, the Beef Products Inc. public relations team is preparing for the public opinion battle. (Editor’s note: This is part two of a four-part series related to the defamation lawsuit filed by Beef Products Inc. against ABC News.)