Real Journalism Will Be Marginalized: WSJ Editor

Matt Murray, the former editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, says journalism will become far less important in years to come, largely because there will be less journalism.

Murray talks about news deserts where simply no recording of events is happening at all. This is particularly true in local reporting which is disappearing altogether in smaller- and medium-sized cities … such as Ottawa.

Now because of those deserts, according to Murray, we see less community-building, less coverage and more corruption in the local level of government.

See what has happened to the Ottawa Citizen. The main editorial is on the death of Brian Mulroney two months ago. The second editorial is a post-election panel after the 2022 municipal vote.

Then there’s a video on the reaction in Ottawa to the Queen’s death. Other editorials go back to May and June of last year.

As a former member of the editorial board for seven years, it’s very disappointing. Obviously money and circulation at the Citizen are problems. There’s not even the great teaching and socializing influence of the newsroom anymore. What was once the newsroom is now a roller-skating rink.


Who is still holding down the fort here in Ottawa? CTV, CBC and CFRA. We lost 1310News (CityNews) a few months ago. How the Sun and Citizen still survive defies logic.

One of the reasons your agent began The Bulldog 14 years ago was because the libel chill and sacred cows became very difficult to write around at the Citizen. I was spending more time in my retirement fighting to get freelance columns (that were pretty much pablum) into the paper than writing the columns.

The Bulldog is an effort to fill the local journalism void. Its readership is skyrocketing as people look for local coverage that has disappeared in many places in Ottawa (oh yes, and it’s free). Over the life of The Bulldog, the technology has become much more sound but the website went down last year twice during tornados because the demand for the storm videos was greater than the website could stand. That’s more a function of finances than capacity.

If not for the volunteerism of people in the community, The Bulldog simply wouldn’t exist. Your agent doesn’t have time to deal with the administration, editing, writing, technology, circulation, advertising and reader feedback without the much-appreciated help. Still the costs can be daunting at times.

The Bulldog won’t go on forever unless someone decides to take it over. Your agent is aging and my abilities are bound to fade if they haven’t already.

And who wants to buy a news organization other than as a vanity project?

Having worked in both traditional and online journalism for decades, my fear is not that journalism will be marginalized, as the WSJ editor surmises in the video below but rather it will disappear as a result of a lack of resources and lack of depth. Paying journalism grads bad money on three-year contracts does not produce good journalism.

And don’t expect governments to continue to fund journalism. Over time, politicians will enjoy operating in the dark.

Ken Gray

 

Journalism in Transition: Former Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Matt Murray with Marc Beckman

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