Magazine article American Journalism Review

Roberts Will Direct Report on Newspapers

Magazine article American Journalism Review

Roberts Will Direct Report on Newspapers

Article excerpt

You will hear a lot about it before the first piece appears next spring: a series of thorough, reliable and highly readable reports on the state of the American newspaper that we believe will hold your attention through 200-plus pages of AJR.

Gene Roberts, now described as "the legendary newspaper editor" too often for his own good, will be editor-in-chief of the series. He has just finished three years as the managing editor of the New York Times and is returning to the fulltime journalism faculty at the University of Maryland. (An earlier career: During the 18 years he was the top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it won 17 Pulitzer Prizes,)

The talk about the series began even before it was announced. Will it bash news paper companies? a few newspaper company executives were asking, certain the answer was yes because of Roberts' outspoken views on the perils of short-term thinking among some of the new breed in management. (Well, there will be surprises.)

Down in the newsroom there's a hum from a few who have heard. Will it really explain to people what worries me, what still turns me on about my work, and why I may want to get out or stay in forever? (We hope all of the above.)

If the series' findings were easy to predict, there should be no series. Already there has been plenty of articulation of angst, excitement, wonderment, hopefulness and gloom about where newspapers are heading. What we need now more than anything else is what our readers respect the most: first-class reporting that engages the best writers available, takes months of work, involves extensive travel and gets sufficient space in print. …

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