Lalley strikes back!

Because I’m all about keeping you, the faithful reader, informed on the recent Argus mess I’ve started, here’s the latest response – this time directed more at Tim Gebhart at Progressive on the Prairie.

Finally. Out of the eye of the storm.

From Argus Leader Voices:

Again, I don’t begrudge Mr. Gebhart and Mr. Vilhauer their opinions. Public input is important to understanding our mission to serve the readers. But there are a lot of readers who like the things we’re doing. As I said, nothing is permanent in this world anymore.

Less than a year ago, I attended a seminar at the Poynter Institute in Florida. It’s a media think tank and training center that brings people together from across the spectrum to talk about issues and develop our skills. The seminar was “New Habits of News Consumers.” Again, I won’t bore you with details but rest assured that the changes you’re seeing in the Argus Leader are only a small part of a media revolution of which you’re all taking part.

We’ll keep working. We’ll keep changing. I think it’s for the better

I understand the role of technology, of consumer-generated media and of the power of the populace to force change within an entire industry. And I also understand the changes that the Argus Leader must make in order to survive in the newspaper world. After all – I said myself, the people that newspapers fight to bring in, the next generation of newspaper readers, are progressively ditching the newspaper for better, faster, more gadgety news sources.

The change was going to come. I knew that. My problem is that I still believe in the integrity of a newspaper as a quality work of art – as something that is well written and includes only the best of the best. Making the local newspaper should be an honor – it should be the highest form of recognition.

The Argus has to compete with some major markets for its talent. The Star Tribune and the Omaha World Herald are nationally respected newspapers, and a majority of journalistic talent heads towards those bigger markets. The Argus has some journalists of renown, but the organization is smaller. The staff writes more articles with fewer people. The quality lacks as compared to the Strib. No offense to anyone specific on the Argus staff, of course. After all, they were smart enough not to call me back as a writer.

As I said before, and I will reiterate here, I figured out my main problem was that I was expecting too much from the Argus Leader. I was looking for a Big City Paper and found only a small city newsletter. Local news sells. Maybe it’s not just the Argus’ fault. Maybe it is.

Style goes a long ways, in my mind. I don’t like the new Argus style. A lot of advertisers, business owners, long time subscribers, and personal friends don’t like it either. I’m sure there are some people do. I attempted to find some of these people over the past few days – feeling out the people I knew to see if my initial thoughts were unfounded.

Unfortunately, they weren’t. Not one person I spoke to has defended the newspaper, aside from Patrick Lalley. And that is Lalley’s job – to support his business, to fill us in when we’re wrong, and to defend the ship that keeps him afloat.

I do appreciate that this is being aired out in a public forum. I also appreciate that the Argus Leader is listening, even though I don’t expect any changes (and why would there be? I’m just one person.)

I’ve made all of my points, and I’m happy to let the rest of the SDBlogOSphere duke it out. Epp will be thrilled to see this matter back in the spotlight. Thanks to Mr. Lalley for passing some airtime along. I’ll be posting the conversation as it winds along, but I’m going to try to keep my nose out of it. I’m being bested on both sides now.

In the meantime, I’ll go back to watching my hit-counts drop as I move my attention to books and Indiana Pacers basketball.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 18th, 2007