The Enquirer in Wired
This is a trite and largely uncritical look at how the Enquirer and Gannett are remaking themselves. Howe is a proponent of crowdsourcing as a newsgathering technique, and he uses the Wired article to promote crowdsourcing as vital to the survival of newspapers.
All you need to know about the author is in this sentence fragment. After describing some of the Enquirer's online moves, Howe writes, "Such innovation isn't exactly Gannett's style. Better known for ruthless cost-cutting than risky initiatives ...."
I have no love for Gannett (surprised?), and "ruthless cost-cutting" is only one of the kinder ways to characterize the company. But saying the company isn't known for risky initiatives just isn't true. What do you call the startup of USA Today? What other company has started a national daily newspaper from scratch and succeeded? Al Neuharth was an Evil Genius. He built Gannett from a chain of 10 newspapers in upstate New York to an international media company, and that didn't happen without taking some risk. Where Neuharth was evil, though, was in emphasizing selling ads over groundbreaking journalism. That was great for quarterly numbers and Wall Street, but bad for the long-term survival of daily newspapers. The fact remains Howe oversimplified Gannett's history, and a deeper appreciation for the company's history might have improved his article.
Howe eats up Tom Callinan's line of bullshit. Callinan is the evil without the genius. When Howe told how Callinan went to college at night for a degree in new media, I was reminded of this from "A Fish Called Wanda:"
Otto: Don't call me stupid.Callinan is not the king of new media, and there are a lot of questions Howe could have addressed, but didn't. He thinks its great that the Enquirer has a bunch of programmers putting data online, but he doesn't ask how many reporters the Enquirer has. Howe says the Enquirer's web efforts have attracted dozens of businesses that had never advertised with the Enquirer before, but he didn't ask what they're spending. He presents impressive numbers on how the web efforts are growing, but doesn't question how long that might continue. I thought Wired was better than this.
Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes, they do, Otto. They just don't understand it.