Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Journalistic Arrogance or Journalistic Responsibility?

SAM ZELL, THE OWNER of the Tribune newspapers, met with the staff of the Orland Sentinel recently. He fielded questions about his journalistic philosophy.

Zell answered one question by saying that the journalists must provide the information people want, not the information journalists think the public needs. Then he said to the person asking the question, "F**k you."

Watch the video. Who is right in this situation? Was the journalist obnoxious? Or is Zell out of place talking about business to journalists?

5 comments:

Chelsea Calhoun said...

I can't say that either party is right or wrong in their views in this case. It's clear both have very different, separate interests within the world of journalism. However, I do think Zell is wrong for addressing the question the way he did (with a big "f**k you!"). His comment was simply immature and doesn't do much to prove his point. In fact, I think it only proved that Zell is the "arrogant" one here. I don't think an owner of a newspaper is necessarily out of place for talking about business to journalists. Zell owns newspapers, so to him, of course it's all about revenue and "the bottom line".

For me, the question is: shouldn't the issues that truly matter sell more papers anyway? And if not, from where does the problem stem... today's journalists? or today's society? And as much as I would like to say that newspapers should focus on more "important" issues rather than stories that simply sell more papers, I realize that journalism is a business. I think there needs to be a certain sense of respect and understanding between the owners of magazines, newspapers, etc. and the journalists that work for these people. And in this case, there is a very clear lack of that respect and understanding, unless "f**k you" was Zell's way of saying, "I understand that we're both trying to do our jobs here. Let's work together to achieve both our of goals." (...which I very highly doubt.)

Sam Seifman said...

Journalism is about quality reporting that people can respect. What the people want is not always what we should report. We should mostly report what the people need. Journalists, I believe, are more informers than entertainers. It is true that we are meant to entertain, but we cannot have an ignorant republic which is what this man is trying to create.

Sam Seifman said...

Journalism is about quality reporting that people can respect. What the people want is not always what we should report. We should mostly report what the people need. Journalists, I believe, are more informers than entertainers. It is true that we are meant to entertain, but we cannot have an ignorant republic which is what this man is trying to create.

Tyler Laurie said...

Sam Zell makes it very clear that he does not care one way or another about journalists. However, I do think he makes a legit point when he talks about puppies and Iraq. One of the things we have discussed in class on a very regular basis so far is how much of a business journalism has become. Therefore it is in his best interest to sell newspapers. Clearly whatever journalist gets assigned the story of how a puppy was saved from a fire is going to be upset, but the bottom line remains that not everyone is going to always get the story that he or she wants.
To me this seems extremely harmful to the business because it may cause many journalists to lose the heart that they once had. It certainly would seem to be harder to be excited about your job if all you get to write is meaningless human interest stories. That being said, there has to be some common ground between journalists and the people that sign their paychecks so that people can write about the things that matter. I hope that soon enough the business will reach that point again, because at the moment, it does not look appetizing to work for someone like Sam Zell.

David Hall (Blog Master) said...

I love how we always feel like we need to use these elaborate statements that have big words and are well spoken to prove a point. "Fuck you" that was great are you kidding me. I dont agree with you so get the hell off my back.

However, Zell is wrong he does have journalistic duties to the people that read his paper. I think the best way to get people to be interested in the facts is to push the crap and fill the publication with substance. Put Britney bald and naked on the cover. Then have major stories on the elections, Iraq and Darfur as the body. I feel like this would be the best way to get the best of both worlds.