Translation: the print media is dead, and the corpse is starting to stink.
Dead in what sense? Money? Reputation? Sorry, the paper I work at isn't lacking in either of those things as far as I know. People still buy our paper (in fact, our circulation is creeping up slightly), and still respect it.
The print media is big, slow, and dumb.
If you mean in the respect that it doesn't have the instant distribution of the Internet, then yes, it is. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, as I'll illustrate later.
Your standard gargantuan news empire is composed of 200 tons of flab surrounding a tiny pea-sized spark of intelligence up in the penthouse.
If by "flab" you mean the people who put the paper together, then I (as a copy editor) am 150 pounds of that flab, thank you very much. Also, not every newspaper is a "gargantuan news empire." Granted, it takes quite a few people to put a major newspaper together (advertising, marketing, editorial), and large chains are often impersonal. I work at a paper that isn't a part of one of those chains, and I at least know the names and faces of everybody in the newsroom after only having been here a couple of months.
And if by "the pea-sized spark of intelligence up in the penthouse," you mean the publisher of the paper... well, that person has virtually nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the paper. I don't even know what our paper's publisher looks like.
The collaborative online media, we're the mammals now, and we're all starting to tap our watches and look up at the sky, with an expression of "that asteroid oughta be along aaaany minute now...".
Funny, I remember as soon as the web came out, everyone predicted the end of print media. Surprise, it's still here. To paraphrase Twain, the death of print media has been greatly exaggerated.
The basic model of media up until now has been "we'll tell you what the news is, and you'll believe us, because hey, we're impartial right?"
While some print media has fallen into this way of thinking, the ideal that we learn is "to show people what to think about, not what to think" is still taught, and adhered to in some places. At least, that's what I learned in journalism school.
A small number of people whose main expertise consists of putting words on paper mishear the evasions and sugar-coatings of the representatives from the PR firm of Glossover and Passoff, add some incorrect attributions, and sling it off to the front page.
I think you have grossly misrepresented the process of story-writing here. Yes, a large number (I once heard around 50%) of stories begin as a press release. However, to claim that the reporter simply retypes this to generate a story does a great disservice to those reporters that go to crime scenes, disaster scenes, government functions, and courthouses for endless hours of research and staring at numbers in an attempt to figure out how these things will affect the public.
Do they have any idea if the story is accurate, or fair, or balanced, or even non-loony? Of course not.
Wrong. Most good reporters are aware of their own biases and make conscious efforts to overcome them. Most bad ones don't, and don't stay at a paper very long. Also, you make it sound like the only person that evaluates a story for these things is the reporter. At most papers, a story is carefully read by at least three other people before it gets into the paper, and stories are often held or killed somewhere along that line for balance reasons.
They're not experts in whatever field they were just writing about.
Obviously you don't understand the concept of "beats." Reporters don't just write willy-nilly about whatever they feel like. Most reporters at a paper, with a few exceptions, are assigned a beat that all of their stories pertain to. Not every reporter runs to the state capitol every time something happens: there are two reporters who specialize in that. There's a health reporter, a business reporter, a crime reporter, a city hall reporter, etc. These people ARE experts in their field, because that's all they write about. Many of them are formally educated in that field INSTEAD of journalism.
Who are you? You're either the experts on the subject who are knowlegeable and motivated enough to enlighten the rest of us about it,
And how are we supposed to know that without the person volunteering that information? I don't know a damn thing about the background of someone who writes a story here aside from what they volunteer. How does that make people who participate here in any way different from a newspaper reporter? At least reporters are required to sign their real names, and are held accountable for what they write by their employers.
or you are people as bewildered as everyone else, who have done some work to try to enlighten yourselves and are willing to ask for more information.
Reporters I know make efforts to understand what it is they're writing about. Ones that don't, don't survive. Once again, I fail to see a difference.
In both cases, the claims propounded can be responded to, or the questions raised can be addressed, adding to the total accuracy and worth of the article.
That's why newspapers run letters to the editor. Granted, they're not attached directly to the original story like they can be here, but it's not like nobody gets a voice to counter the paper.
And before you say "but the paper gets to control what letters run," you're right, but most editorial departments are highly responsible when it comes to accurately reflecting the ratio of criticism:praise they get.
But what we notably don't have here are "pundits."
I see a lot more punditry on the TV news, especially national news in an election year, than I ever see in a newspaper. But I will concede most of them are largely annoying.
Traditional print media is a morass of punditry, arrogance, and ignorance.
I'd remove punditry, and change ignorance to "deadline pressure." Arrogance, to some extent, is there.
Either you can stick to the big news organs, and always know slightly less than the average copydesk slob,
OK, I have to take personal offense to that comment. I work on a copy desk along with six or seven other people, and we are far from slobs. We are expected to be experts on every conceivable topic, within a two-hour time span. We walk in at 6:00 a.m., plan what's going to be in the paper at 7:00, and have to have the thing out the door by 9:45. We can't be perfect, we're humans. We can't hire individual experts to read every story before it goes in the paper, because we don't have the money. The people who work on this desk, quite honestly, have the best well-rounded educations of anybody I've ever known. And even within that, there are "specializations." One guy can identify just about any firearm in use today on sight. I'm the "tech guy" (duh). And so on.
If you ever get a chance, watch a copy desk in action. Maybe then you will realize the hell these people have to go through every day to meet a deadline, which incidentally collaborative media does not have.
and a day later to boot,
Depends on the paper. I work at an afternoon paper, where we have been able (for example) to report the crash of a Concorde, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, and the ousting of Milosevic, and have these papers out on the streets no more than 3 hours after they happened.
Unfortunately, afternoon papers are a dying breed. Last I heard, there were only about a dozen left in the U.S.
or you can join the incoming dinosaur-crushing asteroid of collaborative media.
If I see print media being "crushed" by anything, it's more conventional online news media than collaborative. Collaborative sites like this can't do anything about local or even regional news. What if you want national news? Surprise, every time someone posts a U.S.-centric story, most of the people from other countries vote it down because they're not interested. Similarly, U.S. users tend to vote down all but the most bizarre stories from other nations.
If you want collaborative media to "crush" print media, then it's going to have to get a lot more regionalized, first.
Them, or yourselves? Who do you trust?
Personally, I'd rather trust someone who's willing to sign their name to a story than someone who isn't.