Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Death of a "Great" Newspaper

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, published in one of the country's 20 largest cities, and circulated statewide in Wisconsin, should be one of the USA's "great" newspapers. In fact, at one time, the predecessor Milwaukee Journal was named as such--with writers such as Harry Pease and Gerry Kloss inhabiting its pages, there was a wealth of talent and capability displayed regularly.

That was then.

A newspaper which is "great" takes its editorials seriously. They may be liberal or conservative, but they are well-reasoned, carefully structured, and persuasive--they are capable of moving the reader to their own position--or at the very least, of forcing the intelligent reader to think through the arguments, giving credit to what's right and (with thought) dismissing that which is wrong.

The Journal-Sentinel of today no longer holds that standard. Perhaps the management does not think highly of its readership--or perhaps the management simply does not care about what is expressed.

Calling Clarence Thomas an "Asterisk-Black" as the paper did in this morning's editorial is, if not the final nail in the coffin, certainly one of the last ones to be driven as the "great" era of this newspaper is slowly interred. When the Journal-Sentinel devolves to the level of the Daily Kos blog and commits to print this sort of race-mongering, it is clear that something is radically wrong.

We fully expect the Journal-Sentinel to be unhappy with Thomas; he does not view the role of a jurist with the same eyes as does the Editorial Board of the paper. But rather than building a case with argumentation, the Journal-Sentinel slides into the mudbath, utilizing ad hominem as an argument.

In an era where print journalism is rapidly losing credibility--corrections abound, and wire-service reporters are sometimes worse than sloppy with the facts--few newspapers can afford to allow their editorial pages to turn into blogspots. The resources available to editorialists are astounding: Lexis-Nexis, massive libraries, cross-referenced statements.

To use ad hominems to slap a very accomplished American should be far beneath the Journal-Sentinel. It displays a remarkable conceit and a stunning lack of respect for the craft.

Not to mention its readership.

3 comments:

steveegg said...

You assume, of course, that the racist Jentinel cares about serving an audience beyond the northern half of Milwaukee County, the heart of Dane County, and those that read Kos.

Crazy Politico said...

Gotta agree with you, since the merger the paper has gone down hill, but over the last few years the only useful section has been sports.

WordReader said...

I doubt that the Journal Sentinal even worries about serving Milwaukee County. They actually yet believe they're the only news source in the area.