The real challenge of good journalism

The Ridder case is not an an example of corporate media’s darkside.

In your editorial “Tribulations in today’s media,” you appear to blame corporate America for the “questionable business tactics” used by Par Ridder.

Ridder is not the puppet of some evil corporate machine – as you would have the reader believe.

He did not use “business tactics.” Instead he willingly and illegally stole proprietary information from the Pioneer Press and broke the non-compete clause in his contract.

Your concerns about the decline of quality journalism are dead-on, but your assessment of the problem’s cause is completely off base.

Regardless of who owns the Star Tribune, the paper must make money in order to continue to fulfill its main obligation – providing the news.

I agree with your point that when staff is reduced, a paper’s ability to properly cover newsworthy events and deliver hard-hitting journalism to its subscribers is jeopardized.

However, you can’t get around the fact that advertising revenue at the Star Tribune is drying up and subscribers are disappearing.

Cost-cutting is the easy and obvious temporary solution to keeping the paper in business.

Just like Avista took the easy and obvious route, so did you when you blamed capitalism for the fall of great journalism.

Just like any business, news publishers will survive on their ability to adapt changes in their market environment in order to deliver the news in a profitable way.

There is no clash between quality journalism and profit-based business.

News organizations in America have always been profit-based businesses, and their ability to properly respond to change and innovate will allow them to continue delivering quality journalism.

The scarier question you failed to address, however, is “what if the reason for the decline in quality journalism isn’t advertising money and subscribers, but rather, a lack of demand?”

Jason Steen is a Carlson School of Management graduate student. Please send comments to [email protected]