Good Fences Make Good News?

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.

While most of us are all for openness, the public editor of the New York Times points out that there are “Cracks in the Wall Between Advertising and News” – partly because of shrinking advertising revenues for news operations and partly because the consolidation of the industry means those revenues are more important than ever – the goal is to make shareholders happy; informing the public has to come second.

Emerging advertising models have contributed to the dismantling of the wall by harvesting information about readers and using it in ways that traditional broadsheets would never dream of. Why shouldn’t journalists follow suit? Well, they have ethics, for one thing…

Here’s a case where good fences make good journalism- just bad business partners in an era when advertising relies on a not-so-cuddly Cookie Monster to find its audience.

Author: Barbara Fister

I'm an academic librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Like all librarians at our small, liberal arts institution I am involved in reference, collection development, and shared management of the library. My area of specialization is instruction, with research interests also in media literacy, popular literacy, publishing, and assessment.

4 thoughts on “Good Fences Make Good News?”

  1. Recently there have been reports that circulation of newspapers is down nationwide, prompting some to proclaim (again) that newspapers are in a death spiral and are doomed to extinction. Is this not similar to what we hear all the time about the end of libraries? Although I used to believe that print and online were the same if the content was the same, I have recently realized that I definitely read an online newspaper differently–I’m more likely to hone in on the stories I’m interested in while when I read a print newspaper I’m more likely to get sucked into stories I probably wouldn’t read online. However, blogs and “most emailed” also point me to stories that I would have otherwise have missed.

    The October PRIMO site of the month is How to Read a Newspaper

    Although it’s a great tutorial, its a bit disconcerting that students actually need such a tutorial. And, its amazing how much more information there is to impart about newspapers–how to find old newspapers, difference between local and national, how to spot bias, foreign newspapers, newspapers on the web, google news, lexis nexis….definitely can’t do all that in a “minute module!”

  2. Students don’t all grow up reading newspapers at home, or may read no further than the sports page. We have a newspaper program on campus – all students have access to three newspapers daily, M-F. It’s terrific, and can be very useful in class. It also helps make them not only more aware of world events, but more familiar with (even addicted to) a daily dose of news.

    At WILU 2005 I heard a great presentation on a project at the University of Illinois, the Global Village Tutorial – getting students aware of news sources from a global perspective. Scroll down to Session 3B for details. I’m looking forward to how this works out.

    By the way, WILU rocks. Great information literacy conference. Think about going to WILU 2006.

  3. Hey Barbara – thanks for the good press about our presentation! 😉 We’ve got the Global News VILLAGE on the web at …. for the on campus use, we post it into the WebCT sites for the courses (1400 students this fall!) but also put it on the web for other classes, etc. We’re anxiously awaiting the end of the semester assessment on how students react and how their group project that uses the skills taught in the tutorial turns out!

  4. And I’m anxiously awaiting your letting us know how it went! Sounded like a terrific project, and one we all should be watching. (Bet that makes you feel all cozy and relaxed :o)

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