The Value of Media Criticism

May 6th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

By Tracy Dingmann

Something happened earlier this week that got me thinking about media criticism… and the purpose of this blog.

The Nation magazine hired former Editor & Publisher editor Greg Mitchell to write a blog called Media Fix – and it launched on Monday.

The Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel said this as she announced the launch:

Greg was a great editor at Editor & Publisher, where he challenged the mainstream media, pundits, and the president in the run-up to the war in Iraq. For decades, he has kept a keen eye on what’s right, what’s wrong, and what’s missing from the media. We’re thrilled to have Greg, and we’re excited to launch Media Fix — our first blog at TheNation.com dedicated to the intersection of politics and media.

Longtime media observers are excited to see what Mitchell will uncover as he highlights the best and worst of current print, digital and broadcast media, with a special emphasis on media politics and media culture.

After all, Mitchell’s got the credentials.  For close to 10 years, he was the editor of  E&P, the 100 year-old journalism trade magazine that was considered the bible of professional print journalists, covering all aspects of the North American newspaper industry, including business, newsroom, advertising, circulation, marketing, technology, online and syndicates.

Before the Internet came along, it was tough to get your hands on a copy of E&P.

A subscription was expensive and you couldn’t buy it at most newsstands, so only the most serious newspaper journalists – mostly actual newspaper editors and publishers – subscribed and read every word.

E&P articles and criticism provided ethical guidelines for those who owned and ran newspapers, but the entire magazine was a fabulous resource for anyone in the industry. (When I was a journalist-in-training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,  I remember going to the Nafziger Room often to read the E&P classifieds and look for a job.)

When E&P’s print edition folded a few months ago,  (you can still read a scaled-back version online) it seemed to many to signal the end of an era – or at the very least, the marginalization of a trusted, constructively-critical voice for newspapers.

Mitchell’s return as a critical voice is an important to those of us who care about maintaining the quality and standards of newspaper journalism.

I was a constructive critic of newspapers for every second of the 20 years I worked as a daily newspaper reporter. And I am proud today to be part of a team of media critics that includes Denise Tessier and Arthur Alpert.  Between us, we  share more than 100 years of professional journalism experience.

Arthur, Denise and I focus our criticism on the Albuquerque Journal – read our founding statement to learn why – but we link to other media criticism sites in our posts and on our blog roll,  and try to comment on the media as a whole and its effect on our world.

For those of us who appreciate our work – thank you. Please keep reading and sending your thoughtful comments.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • claus

    As your per your mission statement “…Robust, honest and frank media criticism is essential in a thriving democracy…” While the ideology is obvious in some of the content that you and your co-writers examine in the ABQ Journal, there are other pieces that without your work here I would dismiss as just poor journalism, which indeed they are. Keep up the good work.

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