The lame state of local reporting – continued

Following up on my earlier Steve Jobs related posts (Saturday, Sunday):

Local-angle update:

A Tennessee media outlet (the Memphis Commerical Appeal) finally posted a local-angle story. Unfortunately, there is nothing new or local in the story that was not ferreted out by bloggers at least 24 hours before the story was posted. No local reporting. No use of contacts at hospitals — or even any “attempts to contact Methodist-University Hospital failed.” The story merely pulled together some facts from the first story and from follow-up blog posts.

In another example of “great” local reporting, the editor of the Memphis Flier, the city’s “alternative weekly,” drove by the “mansion” that a blogger in California speculates belongs to Jobs. He did discover something that you can’t figure out from a satellite — nobody seems to be living in the place.

We’ve now reached the low point where local reporting means rounding up what bloggers figure out — and then posting some drive-by “content.”

The “sourcing” issue:

Using several conversational threads that took place over the weekend about the ways in which news regarding Steve Jobs liver transplant was released, Felix Salmon of Reuters blogs on the topic of ways in which “sources” are identified by different media companies. It’s an interesting, if nuanced, issue in the context of the Jobs story as the original Wall Street Journal article did not put its report within the context of any of the typical CYA caveats like, “according to sources close to the matter.”

The opening paragraph of the story had no cushioning:

“Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave from Apple Inc. since January to treat an undisclosed medical condition, received a liver transplant in Tennessee about two months ago. The chief executive has been recovering well and is expected to return to work on schedule later this month, though he may work part-time initially.

As I noted yesterday, anyone who has tracked the way Apple manages its information flow can “guess” in a rather educated way that Steve Jobs was the source of the Journal’s story — and he dictated its timing. I might add, masterfully.

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  • Hi Rex–just a correction–the CA did contact the hospital where it’s most likely the operation was performed and the spokesperson is quoted in the article.

    Whereas I understand your disappointment in the coverage from Memphis, I think it’s important to note that a reasonable number of people who read the CA (and even the Flyer) couldn’t possibly care less that Steve Jobs got a transplant in Memphis. I don’t think that the local interest is there. And how can an editor justify devoting very limited resources to a story that their customers have no interest in?

    And, if given my choice, I would certainly choose the Morningside Heights mansion over Graceland! Ha!

    Side note: my comment hear is influenced by the fact that I saw “Nothing But the Truth” last night, which certainly concerns the privacy of individuals in relation to news…and was filmed in the newsroom of the CA. It’s possible they know more but aren’t sharing. Just a thought.

  • Alexandra

    Interesting that you mention “Nothing But the Truth.” A lot of it was filmed on Morningside Place last year. And yes Rex I think it is a new low point when the editor of an award winning alternative paper publishes a blow by blow drive by of the house in question. In fact it is rather creepy to think Bruce V was peering into one of my neighbor’s houses to see if he could catch a glimpse of Steve Jobs.

  • @lesley – I stand corrected. The CA did call the hospital and got a “we’ve never had a patient by that name.” As for “couldn’t possibly care less” argument. I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve just skimmed through a week’s worth of CA headlines and I could make the “couldn’t care less” argument on 90% of the editors choice. The Steve Jobs story has intrigue, celebrities, money, iife & death and it like took place in Memphis. Geez. Some people wouldn’t know a good story if it flew a Gulfstream Jet up their …..

  • Fair enough…but maybe they’re just respecting his privacy? Okay, no, probably not. 🙂