End of an era (for better or worse): Ailene Voisin admires her last rippling bicep

#2
I was no fan of Voison's during her time writing for Sac Bee, but I do have to pour one out for the continual decline of journalism in America. This is happening to publications all across the country, and it's unfortunate that important media voices, news men and women, sports journalists, and culture writers are becoming endangered species. Soon, there won't be much left to read but short form, instant reaction "hot takes" that contribute little depth or substance to our discourse surrounding all kinds of subject matter.

We're actually flattening our engagement with news and culture in our contemporary media environment, which is astounding to me, given the extraordinary capacity for information to flow directly to users online. Our worldviews should be expanding in 2018, yet instead, they're ever-retracting. I've watched many publications I read and journalists I admire and websites I follow close up shop in the last half-decade. It's rather disheartening.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#4
RE: The thread title... what do you mean, 'or'?

I was no fan of Voison's during her time writing for Sac Bee, but I do have to pour one out for the continual decline of journalism in America. This is happening to publications all across the country, and it's unfortunate that important media voices, news men and women, sports journalists, and culture writers are becoming endangered species. Soon, there won't be much left to read but short form, instant reaction "hot takes" that contribute little depth or substance to our discourse surrounding all kinds of subject matter.
I would argue that journalism itself hasn't declined; the demand for what tends to be thought of as journalism has. My contention would be that 'good' journalism still exists (depending entirely on your standards for 'good', I suppose), but the development and proliferation of new media has made it so that you have to look elsewhere to find it. Fact is, Sturgeon's Law applied to 'old school' journalism just as much as it does now. It just seems like it's gotten worse because the world has gotten a lot smaller.
 
#5
RE: The thread title... what do you mean, 'or'?


I would argue that journalism itself hasn't declined; the demand for what tends to be thought of as journalism has. My contention would be that 'good' journalism still exists (depending entirely on your standards for 'good', I suppose), but the development and proliferation of new media has made it so that you have to look elsewhere to find it. Fact is, Sturgeon's Law applied to 'old school' journalism just as much as it does now. It just seems like it's gotten worse because the world has gotten a lot smaller.
It's true enough that "good journalism" still exists, but it actually is becoming more scarce because there are fewer opportunities to sustain a livelihood as a full-time journalist in a media environment where consumers have determined that "the news" is not something they should have to pay for. And even those among "good journalists" are struggling to produce quality work because their publishers are less motivated to publish quality long-form writing than ever before.

More and more websites, for example, have "pivoted to video" in an attempt to generate ad revenue. It's very easy to block banner ads in the online era, but somewhat difficult to block an ad that precedes a video, so websites are churning out more and more video content in order to lure that sweet, sweet advertising money back. The trouble is that the cost to produce high quality video content renders said video rather shallow in nature. You'll see a lot of 3-5 minute videos now taking the place of that "good journalism," and more often than not, these videos address their subject matter much more shallowly than a well-written long-form piece would.

A lot of journalists have weighed in on the subject, and while I try to be cautious around those who speak in apocalyptic terms, the landscape really is rather dire. If I remember to do so tomorrow, I'll link to some good writing (ironic, right?) about the state of contemporary media, and why it's problematic for those readers/listeners/viewers who seek to be reasonably well-informed, or simply enjoy engaging with good writing.
 
#6
I still subscribe to the Bee, because I believe newspapers, or whatever you want to call their digital form, are still the most crucial and effective outlets for journalism in today's society. Nonetheless, with revenues going down, the powers that be continue to make their product worse. I don't get it.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#7
A lot of journalists have weighed in on the subject, and while I try to be cautious around those who speak in apocalyptic terms, the landscape really is rather dire. If I remember to do so tomorrow, I'll link to some good writing (ironic, right?) about the state of contemporary media, and why it's problematic for those readers/listeners/viewers who seek to be reasonably well-informed, or simply enjoy engaging with good writing.
And why do you think that it's the contemporary media that's problematic, rather than the consumers who resist adaptation to the way the media has changed?
 
#8
And why do you think that it's the contemporary media that's problematic, rather than the consumers who resist adaptation to the way the media has changed?
It's certainly both. Human beings are, by and large, creatures of convenience, and the online age has magnified many of our worst habits.

If you stick a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will hop out immediately to preserve its life. If you stick a frog in a pot of water at room temperature, and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will eventually boil without ever realizing what's happened. That's kind of where we are in the current media landscape. There is more "content" than ever before to consume, but few curators to help the average consumer sift through it all. The problem is that much of it is unreliable, hastily-composed, improperly-vetted, deliberately deceiving, or cleverly-disguised advertising, and many readers simply don't have the tools to discern that which is trustworthy from that which is not.

In a different era, someone like Walter Cronkite was a discerning voice you could trust to deliver information free of the encumbrances that information is saddled with today. Here in 2018, there are few such authoritative presences left to help create a unified understanding of "the facts." What's more, through the black magic of confirmation bias, often the reader is led exactly where they want to go, without ever being forced to question the efficacy of what they've consumed. It's only in the last few months that users are starting to scratch their heads and say, "Ya know, this Facebook thing might not be all that great for the dissemination of reliable information." I do wonder if the water's already boiling, though, and it's pretty clear that journalists like Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite aren't walking back through that door.
 
#9
I was no fan of Voison's during her time writing for Sac Bee, but I do have to pour one out for the continual decline of journalism in America. This is happening to publications all across the country, and it's unfortunate that important media voices, news men and women, sports journalists, and culture writers are becoming endangered species. Soon, there won't be much left to read but short form, instant reaction "hot takes" that contribute little depth or substance to our discourse surrounding all kinds of subject matter.

We're actually flattening our engagement with news and culture in our contemporary media environment, which is astounding to me, given the extraordinary capacity for information to flow directly to users online. Our worldviews should be expanding in 2018, yet instead, they're ever-retracting. I've watched many publications I read and journalists I admire and websites I follow close up shop in the last half-decade. It's rather disheartening.
Could not have said it better myself. Ailene's writing was not to my taste, and most folk's around here. I feel that she missed opportunities to really go in-depth with all the dysfuction within the Kings franchise, and instead gloss the surface/hit the beats, and insist on an awkward trademark of describing an athlete's build. Granted, going in-depth with the franchise's darker inner workings would have been a political sacrifice for her and the Bee, but look where they are now.

It's awful to see local market journalism be "scaled" into a collection of outsourced articles, clickbait, and subsequent works of little substance. Albeit some papers have been able to survive and produce quality journalism in the digital era (political biases aside, WSJ and NYT come to mind), but they are few and far between - and can't get down to the local level outside of their publication region.

So I wonder: what is the future for quality local journalism? How can local journalism become profitable again? I really hope the next generation of entrepreneurs can solve for this.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#10
It's certainly both. Human beings are, by and large, creatures of convenience, and the online age has magnified many of our worst habits.

If you stick a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will hop out immediately to preserve its life. If you stick a frog in a pot of water at room temperature, and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will eventually boil without ever realizing what's happened. That's kind of where we are in the current media landscape. There is more "content" than ever before to consume, but few curators to help the average consumer sift through it all. The problem is that much of it is unreliable, hastily-composed, improperly-vetted, deliberately deceiving, or cleverly-disguised advertising, and many readers simply don't have the tools to discern that which is trustworthy from that which is not.
And what I'm saying is that it's always been like that; that hasn't changed. The only thing that's changed is that, previously, everyone swaddled themselves in the ten percent of 'good' journalism, and there was some kind of tacit agreement that the other ninety percent didn't exist, and now, that's become inverted.

I admit that I always find myself feeling pressed whenever I see someone talking about how much 'worse' things are, and how it was better 'back in our day.' I don't know, maybe your 'day' and my 'day' were not the same 'day', but I remember what it was like back in my 'day', and things weren't better better back in my 'day'; my 'day' ****ing sucked... As far as your 'discerning voices, whenever I see someone lionizing guys like Cronkite and Murrow, I can't help but think of that line from Public Enemy: "Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant **** to me..." I will say this about the 'discerning voices,' that kind of agrees with what you're saying, though: I think that people's perception about the quality of journalism has been greatly informed by the shift/drift in whom we allow to be the gatekeepers of 'good' journalism. And, when people's access was more limited/controlled, it was easier to attribute the 'good' journalism to the perceived integrity of the gatekeepers.
 
#11
I didn't like Ailene's work for the same reason I don't like Grant Napear calling the games.. almost everything she wrote was editorial posing as coverage. When you're manipulating people's comments to fit your narrative or asking pointed questions with the hope of steering the conversation in a direction you've already decided on you're not a journalist you're a talking head. And maybe that wouldn't matter in a bigger market where there's an abundance of voices to cover multiple angles but in Sacramento the media presence is rather small. I feel like she constantly seeded negativity and for that reason I'm glad she's no longer covering the Kings.

I'm not going to get too far into the issue of whether the Sacramento Bee is relevant anymore. Most of the print newspapers signed their own death warrant in my opinion by treating the Internet with the same disdain as the record industry. The Bee opted to follow the subscription model which meant fewer and fewer people actually read their content. That was their choice. I can't blame them, it was a confusing time and the subscription model worked for newspapers for quite a long time. A lot of companies folded because they couldn't make that same adjustment. Huge companies too like Tower Records and Blockbuster. Journalism isn't going away though, it's just transitioning to a different standard. What matters now is how fast the information is out there. It's up to the consumer to sort through it all and basically be their own investigative journalist. If you don't want to make those judgements for yourself there's no shortage of analysts willing to give you their version. The "facts" are out there ahead of the headline now (some of them true, some of them fabricated) but there are people doing great work sorting through them all if you take the time to look.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#12
I didn't like Ailene's work for the same reason I don't like Grant Napear calling the games.. almost everything she wrote was editorial posing as coverage. When you're manipulating people's comments to fit your narrative or asking pointed questions with the hope of steering the conversation in a direction you've already decided on you're not a journalist you're a talking head. And maybe that wouldn't matter in a bigger market where there's an abundance of voices to cover multiple angles but in Sacramento the media presence is rather small. I feel like she constantly seeded negativity and for that reason I'm glad she's no longer covering the Kings.

I'm not going to get too far into the issue of whether the Sacramento Bee is relevant anymore. Most of the print newspapers signed their own death warrant in my opinion by treating the Internet with the same disdain as the record industry. The Bee opted to follow the subscription model which meant fewer and fewer people actually read their content. That was their choice. I can't blame them, it was a confusing time and the subscription model worked for newspapers for quite a long time. A lot of companies folded because they couldn't make that same adjustment. Huge companies too like Tower Records and Blockbuster. Journalism isn't going away though, it's just transitioning to a different standard. What matters now is how fast the information is out there. It's up to the consumer to sort through it all and basically be their own investigative journalist. If you don't want to make those judgements for yourself there's no shortage of analysts willing to give you their version. The "facts" are out there ahead of the headline now (some of them true, some of them fabricated) but there are people doing great work sorting through them all if you take the time to look.
I agree with this post, except that I would add that the transition has actually been over thirty-six years in the making. This transition has been inevitable, ever since Ted Turner launched Headline News in 1982.
 
#13
And what I'm saying is that it's always been like that; that hasn't changed. The only thing that's changed is that, previously, everyone swaddled themselves in the ten percent of 'good' journalism, and there was some kind of tacit agreement that the other ninety percent didn't exist, and now, that's become inverted.
I don't think it was a tacit agreement that the other ninety percent didn't exist. I think it was a tacit agreement that the other ninety percent wasn't worth listening to. Many weren't just ignoring it; they evaluated its trustworthiness and found it wanting. And the fact that the inverse is occurring in 2018 is not something that should be hand-waved at, like it's only a minor problem that much of America now actively ignores "good journalism" in favor of abject hackery. You say it's "the only thing that's changed" as if it's not a monumental shift in American thought.

For example, the notion that JFK's assassination was an inside job, or that the moon landing was faked, were conspiracy theories that used to be the province of the fringiest of fringe thinkers. Now millions of Americans subscribe to such notions relative to contemporary issues and events. In an effort to avoid steering this conversation toward current political conditions, I'll refrain from being more specific. But I think many are underestimating the impact that a lack of consensus about what constitutes "reality" can have on a democracy. Again, it's easy to offer a tossed-off "it's always been like that" or "the times they are a'changin'" or "both sides do it" or "some people say" or "get off my lawn" or whatever rationale people generate for their choices without looking at conditions as they actually are.

Yes, every era has its crazies and its conspiracies and its peoples' unwillingness to engage with reality. But I'm looking at the problem in the aggregate. Never has it been so widespread, and I just don't want to be that frog sitting in a pot of slowly boiling water, unaware of the damage that's being done because the water only seems a little bit hotter than it was before. That kind of creeping incrementalism creates so much opportunity for charlatans to speak their piece and have it circulated without being shouted down. Hitler's Third Reich largely succeeded with an incrementalist approach to genocide. That may be a melodramatic example, but human beings are rather susceptible to all kinds of cons and frauds.

To be clear, though, I'm not really advocating for a return to the status quo of old media. I'm only 31 years old. I was barely even raised on old media. I have no attachment to it. I rarely opened the Sacramento Bee that was delivered daily to my parents' house. I found cable news to be stuffy and insufficient. I loved to read, but by the time I took an active interest in education and information, the internet was already at my fingertips. At first, it seemed like a great way to democratize the spread of information, until users slowly retreated into their respective online bubbles and refused to let anything penetrate their carefully-crafted versions of reality. That's before we even address how the anonymity and physical distance provided by the internet turns people and their conversations into turgid, hate-filled cesspools.

So, in the absence of a shared understanding of "the facts," I remain unconvinced that new forms of media are offering a better model for informing and engaging the citizenry. I'm not saying that the old one was particularly great; I'm just saying the new one might be hurting more than it's helping. Do you see it improving? Can we put the toothpaste back in the tube, or close Pandora's Box? Can we go home again? At least with the old model, there was some measure of accountability, however minor. I mention Walter Cronkite not because he was the ultimate arbiter of integrity, an angel of journalism delivered from up on high, or anything like that. His trustworthiness was tied to his reputation, which was tied to his employment. CBS's trustworthiness was tied to its reputation, which was tied to its income. They stood to gain from offering "good journalism."

Most places online, revenue opportunities are not measured by the integrity or reputation of those doing the reporting. In fact, it's often quite the opposite. The more controversial you can be, the more you can twist and spin and contort the facts, the more clicks you're likely to get. Few stand to gain from the truth in the online age. The internet is a pretty great tool for hyperbole and distraction, it turns out. The immediacy and accessibility to its many doors and windows makes the television seem absolutely quaint by comparison. It certainly makes it easy to quickly spread misinformation to large numbers of individuals. It works wonders as an echo chamber. But it actually fails pretty dramatically as a way to help the largest number of people make educated decisions about how they should spend their money and how they should wield their vote.
 
#14
I’m sorry to see Voison gone. I enjoyed her reporting, her commentary and her opinions. The traditional way continues to slip away on news paper business - the reporter who passes on the news and the columnist who analyses and opines.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#15
I don't think it was a tacit agreement that the other ninety percent didn't exist. I think it was a tacit agreement that the other ninety percent wasn't worth listening to. Many weren't just ignoring it; they evaluated its trustworthiness and found it wanting. And the fact that the inverse is occurring in 2018 is not something that should be hand-waved at, like it's only a minor problem that much of America now actively ignores "good journalism" in favor of abject hackery. You say it's "the only thing that's changed" as if it's not a monumental shift in American thought.
I think you're misunderstanding me: you appear to be reading my post as if you think I'm saying that now people think that the ninety percent of trash is worthwhile. What I'm actually saying is that people think that the ninety percent of trash now comprises one hundred percent of the journalism.

For example, the notion that JFK's assassination was an inside job, or that the moon landing was faked, were conspiracy theories that used to be the province of the fringiest of fringe thinkers. Now millions of Americans subscribe to such notions relative to contemporary issues and events.
Counterpoint: millions of Americans always believed those things. What's changed is that the world's gotten smaller, and it's forced us to recalibrate our definition of 'fringe.' You make it sound like you think that there were only 10,000 total whackadoos in the entire country fifty years ago, when what's closer to the truth is that the 50 whackadoos in Billings didn't know about the 500 whackadoos in Seattle, who didn't know about the 1,500 whackadoos in San Francisco, who didn't know about the 400 whackadoos in Phoenix, who didn't know about the 25,000 whackadoos in Chicago, who didn't know about the 15 whackadoos in Mobile, who didn't know about the 100 whackadoos in Charleston, who didn't know about the 150,000 whackadoos in New York City, who didn't know about the 600 whackadoos in St. Louis...

In an effort to avoid steering this conversation toward current political conditions, I'll refrain from being more specific. But I think many are underestimating the impact that a lack of consensus about what constitutes "reality" can have on a democracy. Again, it's easy to offer a tossed-off "it's always been like that" or "the times they are a'changin'" or "both sides do it" or "some people say" or "get off my lawn" or whatever rationale people generate for their choices without looking at conditions as they actually are.
While similarly trying to avoid political specifics, I would counter that the disconnect is that people conflate heterogeneous with unreliable, and that's actually not new. What's different is that, when the gatekeepers were homogeneous, the voices of the people could not relate to them or found them unreliable were ignored and, now that that is lessening, the people who want for a return to the status quo are rejecting the changing faces of the gatekeepers.

... The internet is a pretty great tool for hyperbole and distraction, it turns out. The immediacy and accessibility to its many doors and windows makes the television seem absolutely quaint by comparison. It certainly makes it easy to quickly spread misinformation to large numbers of individuals. It works wonders as an echo chamber. But it actually fails pretty dramatically as a way to help the largest number of people make educated decisions about how they should spend their money and how they should wield their vote.
If that's what you get out of your internet experience, well... that's unfortunate.
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
Contributor
#16
Print newspapers are dying because they cannot compete with the instant news cycles. They are dying because classified advertising, once a valuable source of income, has gone the way of the dinosaur. They are dying because there are too many alternative ways to get information. I speak from experience.

You can argue all the other points, but if you need one main cause of the demise it is clearly the internet.
 
#17
Print newspapers are dying because they cannot compete with the instant news cycles. They are dying because classified advertising, once a valuable source of income, has gone the way of the dinosaur. They are dying because there are too many alternative ways to get information. I speak from experience.

You can argue all the other points, but if you need one main cause of the demise it is clearly the internet.
Too bad you cant line bird cages or start fires with electronic news.
 

Mr. S£im Citrus

That's right, I said it!
Staff member
#18
Print newspapers are dying because they cannot compete with the instant news cycles. They are dying because classified advertising, once a valuable source of income, has gone the way of the dinosaur. They are dying because there are too many alternative ways to get information. I speak from experience.

You can argue all the other points, but if you need one main cause of the demise it is clearly the internet.
No disagreement with this post, although I would question whether the death of print newspapers (media?) and the "death" of journalism are the same thing.
 

VF21

#KingsFansForever
Staff member
Contributor
#19
No disagreement with this post, although I would question whether the death of print newspapers (media?) and the "death" of journalism are the same thing.
Not the same thing, but definitely in the small ballpark IMHO. True journalists (and not just talking heads or copy readers) are nearly extinct. I think it has to do with the dumbing down of society in general but I may be prejudiced.
 
#25
I was no fan of Voison's during her time writing for Sac Bee, but I do have to pour one out for the continual decline of journalism in America. This is happening to publications all across the country, and it's unfortunate that important media voices, news men and women, sports journalists, and culture writers are becoming endangered species. Soon, there won't be much left to read but short form, instant reaction "hot takes" that contribute little depth or substance to our discourse surrounding all kinds of subject matter.

We're actually flattening our engagement with news and culture in our contemporary media environment, which is astounding to me, given the extraordinary capacity for information to flow directly to users online. Our worldviews should be expanding in 2018, yet instead, they're ever-retracting. I've watched many publications I read and journalists I admire and websites I follow close up shop in the last half-decade. It's rather disheartening.
I genuinely don't know where to find a decent news media outlet these days.
 
#29
No disagreement with this post, although I would question whether the death of print newspapers (media?) and the "death" of journalism are the same thing.
I disagree with both of you! The failure of the print newspaper lies at the hand of people like my lazy paper boy who cant get the my paper to my doorstep fast enough.