The Campaign Desk's Thomas Lang interviews veteran Pittsburgh newsman Dennis B. Roddy, and unearths an interesting view of the effect of blogs on newspaper journalism: it's brought back one form of old-time reporting.
TL: I noticed a few days ago you did a real-time online story for the Post-Gazette website after Kerry's VP announcements. Large papers such as the New York Times and Washington Post now have small operations dedicated to online coverage. How have the pressures of online journalism affected political coverage at the Post-Gazette? What are you doing to keep up?
DBR: It's important to note first off that a lot of the story was AP copy, as was acknowledged. I'm used to this [type of reporting]. You've got to remember that a quarter of the staff here is from the old Pittsburgh Press which was an afternoon newspaper. Not only was it an afternoon paper but also it was too cheap to buy laptops and cell phones. A lot of us were very accustomed to running out in the morning and grabbing a pay phone, a neighbor's phone, or even stealing a cell phone from a competing reporter and simply dictating a story from the location. The stuff you saw at the top of the story was simply me dictating it right from the rally. It's not a big change for me. For some of the others it would be.
I'm seeing some reporters come in and I'm amazed that they take hours to write a deadline story. They are very much trained in the art of perfectionism. We're not writing for posterity. We're writing for Thursday.
The short answer on how the web has changed things is that it has given us an afternoon edition without the expenses. People are going to have to relearn the lost craft of shouting a half-written story into the phone and counting on someone over here [hearing] everything right.
In other words, the web has brought back one of the oldest forms of journalism — afternoon deadlines.