Magazine article Editor & Publisher

ASNE to Wires: Enough, Already!

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

ASNE to Wires: Enough, Already!

Article excerpt

Wire services and supplemental news services provide a comprehensive -- indeed, almost overwhelmingly voluminous -- report, but with room for more insights and imagination, concludes a subjective study by the American Society of Newspaper Editor's Newspaper Content Committee.

Committee chairman Howard C. Weaver said one editor's comment made after reading a day's coverage of the Atlanta Olympics was a neat summary of the study's results: "The news on this particular day was covered like a blanket .... The feature that stands out the most when you put all the news services together is the fundamental news coverage .... The disappointment was not so much what [was] included as what wasn't. As a reader I found myself thirsty for stories that explained the dynamics... [and] provided real insights."

This was the first project undertaken by Newspaper Content Committee, which was created by immediate past President Robert H. Giles, editor and publisher of the Detroit News. About a dozen editors surveyed the coverage of the Atlanta Olympics, a late fall week of the 1996 presidential campaign and coverage of television and personalities, as provided by the Associated Press; Gannett News Service; Knight-Ridder/Tribune Information Services; Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service; New York Times News Service and Reuters.

There was no pretense of scientific accuracy to the study, noted Weaver, editorial page editor at the sacramento Bee.

"The survey sought subjective evaluations because we thought no other method offered a similar chance to make qualitative judgments about the kind of content American editors have with which to build their newspapers -- and that's the issue the committee most wanted to engage," Weaver wrote in the study.

One clear result: Editors have plenty -- almost too much -- of material to work with.

"One of the chief impediments to finding and using the best stories is the sheer bulk of material," the study said. …

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