Jim Rallies to the TD's Defense
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 :::
Leave it to one of my favorite contrarians to come to the defense of the Times-Dispatch. Here, Jim Bacon takes on the unenviable task, and with the best of intentions.
However, I think he misses the mark on the possible goal of the paper's house cleaning: raising editorial standards.
I would believe that to be the case if the paper had not made what seems to be a conscious decision to increase the amount of soft news in its main and metro sections.
Is it hard news, and higher editorial standards, that drove the TD to give so much coverage to American Idol contestant Eliot Yamin? Of course not. It's the same decision that leads the paper to feature, as it does today, prominent, above the fold coverage to the heat.
I've no problem, really, with any newspaper that feels the need to change its staff, its format or even its editorial voice. Such changes are not only inevitable, but necessary. However, the TD's process, at least so far, seems to be more high-handed than I've seen elsewhere (well, outside of the New York Times, that is). And while Jim says he would have followed the same policy as new publisher Tom Silvestri and not spoken to Style Weekly regarding the changes at the paper, the idea of any news organization imposing a gag order on its employees -- let alone one that requires outside contact to first be vetted by the promotions manager -- should be a cause for concern. They are the sort of polices that breed rumor, not squelch it. Worse, they give every indication -- fair or not -- that a company has something to hide.
I do wish the TD would become a strong, even aggressive, newspaper. The Richmond area deserves nothing less. But the TD's recent moves don't exactly give me that impression.
It seems more like settling scores.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 8/02/2006