Friday, February 23, 2007

Marquette Tribune: Mimicking Warrior Stories

The current issue of The Marquette Tribune has a column titled “Confessions of a 21-year-old Karaoke King” written by Rob Ebert.

It’s a nice little piece of writing.

But interestingly, The Warrior ran a piece virtually identical in tone, writing style and substance back on 27 September 2006.

This one was written by Kyle Shamorian.

This is not the first time in the last few weeks that the Tribune has followed in the footsteps of The Warrior.

The February 15 number of the Tribune had a front-page, above the fold feature story on Marine Corporal Dave Warnacut, a Marquette senior who served in Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005.

Yet The Warrior ran a similar feature story on Warnacut back in November, 2005.

Of course, we can’t assert that the Tribune is copying The Warrior. A good story idea is a good story idea, and different journalists might come up with it independently. But if this is what is happening, The Warrior staff can be forgiven for being just a bit smug that they came up with the ideas months and months before the Tribune.

The same can be said of the Tribune’s new practice of putting long feature stories, with large color photos, on the front page above the fold.

The Tribune, for at least the last few decades, has been preparing fledgling journalists to take jobs in monopoly local newspapers. In that environment, if something doesn’t appear in the paper, it’s literally “not news.” In that environment, nobody really has the power to seriously complete with the paper, and nobody has the power to hold it accountable for misreporting and bias.

But the rise of the New Media has changed the landscape. Monopoly papers have to exist in an environment with rival media -- typically on the Internet or talk radio. They can be called out for bias or misreporting. Life isn’t so cozy.

Which is why the new media reality at Marquette is good training for the new media environment in the larger society.

But it’s a lot less cushy and comfortable.

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