I don’t really give a crap about Britney Spears, Madonna, or anything to do with American Idol. I am always outraged when I see junk like that in the headlines. What I want from my news is information about what those who run my community are up to. I will happily pay for news if it is worth paying for, but more and more even the big names have become less and less about real news. This editorial about the Baltimore Sun’s crime section is a great example. Real reporting is hard work, but vital to a community, it lets us little people know that those we put in power are doing our work, rather than just making themselves rich. Papers wonder how they are failing, I think it is because they have forgotten that real reporting is needed, not just the latest about some idiot celebrities.
Edit: Techdirt’s Mike Masnick has a different take on this, normally I line up with him on most stories, but I think he has missed the point here. He is saying that the author got the info inspite of not being a reporter, but I would say he only got the info because he used to be a reporter and knew the ropes via hard earned professional experience. Now do I think citizens should be looking for this kind of info and making it known? Yep. But I do think it will be a long time before some random blogger gets the kind of access a real reporter gets than has the impact when the story is published. I think it isn’t the competition from blogs that is killing the papers, it is the lack of exactly this kind of reporting. Reporters parroting predictable party lines or just quoting press releases are useless to me, but someone really digging into abuses of power are something I would pay for.