By paulgillin | July 16, 2007 - 4:32 am - Posted in Journalism, Layoffs, Newspapers

Poynter Institute’s Roy Peter Clark writes about what he calls the “Big Lie.” It’s the story being told by many newspapers these days about how budget cuts and layoffs will make them better, stronger, more innovative, faster on their feet. Why can’t they be honest with their readers and tell them that these cuts are hard to accept but that the paper has dealt with adversity before and survived, and it can survive this challenge, too? Tell positive stories about adversity and achievement, he says. Readers want more positive stories.

While I’m not so sure I agree with that last point, Clark is dead on with his comments about newspapers’ reluctance to be straight with readers about their own woes. Dennis Earl comments upon the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s decision to bury news of its own layoffs in a trend piece on hard times in the industry. How hypocritical is it of newspapers to crusade for truth and clarity on the one hand and then cover up their own bad news on the other?

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