Our last class with Mr. Kennedy came and passed on Wednesday with the topic hinging on the hyper-local stories that Gannett's News-Press of Fort Myers, Fla. is now pushing. Naturally, localized journalism is definitely going to be a handy tool if newspapers wanna stay relevant in a digital age. However, it also opens the paper up to putting on a lot of fluff - especially if the managing editor's chewing out the newsroom for not putting something on the web in about three hours. Enter 'The Hunks of North Fort Myers' and other stuff that, for all intents and purposes, should probably stay in the weeklies and the bigger papers' community blotters.
But back to fluff. It's a nice word, isn't it. Fluff. Ha-ha, I'll say it again. Fluff.
Annoyed yet? You should be. And so am I (and that's not just because I typed that word in the double-digits). There's always gonna be some sort of 'soft news,' but as citizen journalism and hyper-local coverage become bigger, the newspapers are going to have to put a serious check on things to keep their legitimate reputations intact. If you MUST have fluff, why not set up a website like WickedLocal, but not fully integrated with the paper? Something like what ESPN.com's done with Page 2 for several years now. Good journalism should not have to be outnumbered by pap. Set some standards.
And don't be like Channel 7, who apparently don't mind making full-blown pieces on Christmas 'porn-aments' for the middle of an 11:00 p.m. newscast.
Oh wait...the internet video arm of Norfolk/Hampton Roads, Va.'s The Virginian-Pilot just did a piece on the same ornaments...you know what, frag this. I'll let you decide about fluff. I think I've lost my head here. Excuse me. I have a hankering for a sandwich with peanut butter and some marshmallow goop whose name I can't say for some reason anymore.