Saturday, January 07, 2006

QUOTES: Time for new "stewardship" in newspaper executive ranks?

QUOTES: Time for new "stewardship" in newspaper executive ranks?

An expert on the newspaper industry says its time for management to take
seriously the concept of "stewardship" to the public. And another says
papers may be better able to transition from print to web than some
businesses faced with changing technology.

Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, and Tom
Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism and vice
chairman of the Committee of Concerned Jounalists, spoke Jan. 5, 2006 on
the public-radio program, On Point, with host Tom Ashbrook. The 10
a.m.-noon weekday show is produced at WBUR Radio in Boston, where Ashbrook
formerly was an assistant managing editor at The Boston Globe.


Ashbrook described the situation as "crunch-time for America's newspapers"
in the windup for his interview with Clark, Rosenstiel and Peter Bahtia,
executive editor of The Oregonian, the Portland, Ore., daily.

"One of the words I've grown up hearing in church is the word stewardship,"
said Clark, a former English professor and feature writer for The St.
Petersburg Times who is now a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the
"think tank" for the newspaper-industry. He added: "I think it's time to sart
using that word in talking aout the ownership and leadership of news

Clark said he often is asked in interviewed about individual reporters or
columnists who have committed ethical breaches. He continued: "Discussion about
ethics almost always focuses on these renegade individuals who hurt the
credibility of news organizations. Isn't it time that we started not just
accepting as a sort of a justification for cutting news resources adherence to
the standards of Wall Street or the fiduciary responsibility to stockholders?
What about the stewardship of a news organization as a kind of a public trust?"

Rosenstiel belives its an open question whether information will be
delivered on paper in 10 or 15 years. He says newspaper companies need to
realize the soul of their operation "is monitoring a community on behalf
of citizens." The companies, he said, "need to persuade Wall Street and
others, private bankers and others, that this is what their business is
and they will continue to do that."

Rosenstiel cited the example of buggy-whip manufacturers as an industry
which was not equipped to transition to providing resources for the
automobile industry. But newspapers, he said, may not be in that
situation, he told Ashbrook.

"Newspapers are in many ways the best equipped organizationally in terms of
news gathering to make the transition to the online age," said Rosensteil.
"What is not clear is whether they have the wherewithall psychically and
creatively to make the transition and persuade Wall Street that they are the
ones who should do it."

Dr. Roy Peter Clark
Vice President and Senior Scholar
Poynter Institute
801 Third Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
United States
Phone: 727-821-9494
Fax: 727-821-0583

Tom Rosenstiel, Director
Project for Excellence in Journalism, Washington, DC
1850 K Street NW -- #850
Washington, DC 20006
Work: 202-293-7394

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