Sunday, August 16, 2020

Interior Coverage Betrays Women of the Century Project

It is easy to complain about the standardization of the RGSJ Today. But even apart from the cloned front pages, the paper was especially dispiriting this morning.

Today's Template on the Statesman-Register-Journal-Guard
The "women of the century" project ought to be fascinating and inspiring, and it was great to learn something about Air Force Major General Jeanne Holm, who was new to me.

Beatrice Morrow Cannady leads
the Oregon Women of the Century
But after leading the localized part of the package with civil rights advocate Beatrice Morrow Cannady as one of Oregon's "10 influential women" of the century, on an interior page coverage of protests at the Capitol failed to express any of the values Cannady might plausibly hold (or the Public Health concerns of Dr. Lovejoy, for that matter).

Advocating at the Capitol, February 3rd, 1919
Like if she's one of our greatest Oregonians, why aren't we thinking about her more deeply?

It wasn't just the fact that McPaper is being standardized by corporate overlords, but that even within the corporate constraints and slashed budgets local editors and journalists aren't thinking and reflecting deeply enough about the nature of the enterprise.

But false equivalence mars the coverage
The juxtaposition of Cannady and the coverage of protests - "scuffles" and the entertainment value of "fireworks" in the lede - at the Capitol revealed much, and it was not good.

Privileging aesthetics and style points for a "great lede"
over any moral claims or truth: Politics as game
In 100 years, in a "History of the 2020 Pandemic," what will a person reading this coverage think? Are they going to sympathize primarily with the Q-people and anti-maskers? Or are they going to sympathize primarily with the BLM protesters? Even the national coffee chain locked the front doors and refused to serve the Covid-deniers.

Esther Pohl Lovejoy on Public Health
Oregonian, November 17th, 1907
Oregon Daily Journal, July 14th, 1908
One of the ways our current journalism is hampered is that journalists are not thinking enough about future readers, truth, and the adjudication of history. Current readers provide the subscriptions and advertising revenues, it's true, but at what cost?

If the paper is going to engage in some history, they ought to think more historically. The paper really missed today.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Esther Pohl Lovejoy does not appear to have registered in the Salem papers during the 1907 plague outbreak, but added a couple of clips from Portland. As I thought a little more about the post, the historic nature of her public health interests deserve a stronger underscore.

Jim Scheppke said...

Good insight! Thanks. The Statesman Journal is now opinion-free. They can't even manage to write an editorial on Sunday. What would Charles Sprague think? As Statesman Editor he wrote an editorial every day that appeared on the front page for 25 years.