Does this make you uneasy?
Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed something truly unusual in Gannett’s New Jersey newspapers. A new byline started appearing this month on articles about the New Jersey Devils hockey team, with a note under each piece stating that the author, Eric Marin, is employed by the Devils, not Gannett.
Newspapers struggling to plug the gaps in their newsrooms have been turning to outside organizations to supply articles, raising questions about their ability to vouch for the material they print. At the same time, professional sports teams, trying to make up for declining news coverage, have been hiring journalists for their Web sites.
Yeah sure, it’s only sports. But sports coverage and political coverage have so much in common, both in the character of the coverage and its gradual decline, so… well… it’s only a matter of time. Mark my words: candidates will start covering their own campaigns, and it will end up influencing coverage in the broader, legacy press.
And when that time comes, these professional editors — many of whom routinely dis the kinda activist journalism produced by openly biased bloggers like me — how will they justify this new business model?
“As long as it served our readers and we told them where that content was coming from, the readers were fine with it,” said Hollis Towns, executive editor of The Asbury Park Press, the largest of the state’s six Gannett papers. “I think journalists get hung up on certain lines of what’s ethical more than the readers.”
Welcome to my brave new world.