Tag Archives: old media

Tyler Morning Telegraph publishes editorial on Page One — ABOVE the masthead

In an almost unprecedented move, the Tyler Morning Telegraph — a newspaper with a very conservative editorial stance — published an editorial in the Sunday, Oct. 3, paper chastising Texas Gov. Rick Perry for refusing to meet with any newspaper editorial boards during his current campaign for an umpteenth term.

That the Tyler paper would take Gov. Perry to task is pretty amazing. What is truly stunning is that they did it with a long editorial at the very top of Page One, above the paper’s masthead. And they signed it, from Publisher Nelson Clyde and Editor Dave Berry on down to City Editor Megan Middleton. Click here to read the editorial.

I’ve lived in Tyler for almost 20 years, and as far as I can remember, I have never seen an editorial that was above the masthead. For those of us who are current and former journalists and newspaper people, this is a HUGE deal. As a friend of mine at the paper said, it’s the print equivalent of shouting.

 

Gov. Rick Perry at work

 

Gov. Perry apparently feels that he no longer needs the “old media,” so he doesn’t have to submit himself to the hard questions that newspaper editors and publishers sometimes ask. This year, the hard questions likely would have centered around how he plans to deal with a state budget deficit estimated to be from $18 billion to $21 billion.

An editorial above a paper’s masthead carries a lot of weight because of its prominent position. It’s hard to achieve that level of prominence on a Web page. Maybe you could have the editorial or a really big story drop down over the Web page and open up right in front of you, like some of the really annoying Internet ads do. But, in general, Web pages are full of flashy images and bells and whistles, so it’s hard to identify the  most important story on each page. The print edition is unambiguous; you know the most important article on Page One is the editorial.

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The olden days of ‘old media’

Last night in New Media class, I had a moment of — epiphany? despair? irony? — while giving my report on uses and gratifications theory. I was talking about growing up in Austin with just one TV station: the CBS affiliate KTBC, which was owned by Lady Bird Johnson.

Noted newsman Edward R. Murrow of CBS

The closest NBC and ABC stations were in San Antonio. If you had a big outside antenna, you could get them. We didn’t, so most of the time we got fuzzy, snowy pictures that weren’t worth watching.

About 80 percent of the class appeared not to fathom that. I felt like part of an oral history project; someone should have been recording me talking about the days of “old media” for the Library of Congress. It is very strange to be part of “living history” and still be alive and kicking.

According to Wikipedia, I am not remembering this correctly.  The Wiki article on KTBC says it actually carried shows from all three networks: 65 percent were CBS programs, and the remaining 35 percent were split between NBC and ABC. I sure don’t remember it like that, but if it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true, right?

It was a huge deal when UHF station Channel 42 signed on, because we could get NBC programs. The Wik says Channel 42 began broadcasting in 1965, which means I probably did see some of the original “Star Trek” broadcasts in 1966 and 1967 on NBC.

Of pine trees and old media

East Texas pines

I thought it appropriate to begin a blog about New Media with a photo of the raw materials of old media: “trash” pine trees planted for pulpwood in the late 1940s. The pines in the photo are in our back yard. They are more than 100 feet tall, and they are almost 70 years old.

The property owner planted pines on his land after World War II, planning to harvest them later for the pulpwood needed to make paper. But he apparently changed his mind when he realized he could make more money selling the property to a developer in the mid-1950s.

The developer built the houses but didn’t cut down all the pine trees. Sixty years later, most of the pines are gone, cut down by homeowners weary of cleaning pine straw off the roof and having pine trees fall into their kitchens and bedrooms. We’ve kept most of the pines on our property. There were 31 in our front and back yards when we moved here in 1991; about 25 are left.

In a way, the pines are an anachronism. They were planted to be sold as pulpwood, but then the land they were growing on became more valuable than they were. The pines lost their original purpose, yet some have managed to hang on and grow tall for more than 60 years.

I think “old media” — newspapers, magazines, radio, television — have the same kind of tenacity as our pine trees. Some venerable old media organizations are hanging on, refusing to die quite yet. But they are aging, along with most of their audience, and much of today’s literate technocracy is passing them by.

The fate of our pine trees is uncertain. We won’t cut them down as long as we’re living here, but I doubt they’ll last long after we leave. Pines aren’t trendy and they’re messy trees. Most of our neighbors cut their pines down long ago.

We don’t know how long old media organizations can survive. But they are failing, and they have little chance of survival unless they adopt some New Media characteristics.