Letter to the Editors: Major Newspapers Blocking US Technology Sector

Posted by tadelste on Jan 16, 2006 9:48 AM EDT
LXer.com; By Tom Adelstein
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The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, New York Times and friends have a plan. If you work in the technology field, you don't figure into that plan. Also, why do we keep picking up the paper in our front yards and paying those monthly fees? For the Sports Section?

Last week, Angela Shah of the Dallas Morning News covered a story called: N. Texas tech index unveiled. I found the article interesting because I know the President of the News, Jim Moroney and I have written to him about the lack of coverage of the DFW technology sector. In an area where hundreds of thousands of jobs relate to the tech industry, the Dallas News ignores the sector.

To get some coverage, the Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce sought out the Nasdaq to create a local area index. Ms. Shah covered the event and wrote:

The Greater Dallas Chamber and the Nasdaq stock market unveiled a new regional technology index Thursday designed to showcase the technology and life sciences industries in North Texas.

"This index tells a story that is not as well-known," said John L. Jacobs, executive vice president of Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. "Dallas is not as well-known for tech as it should be."

The Nasdaq Greater Dallas Chamber Index represents 41 companies that are involved with technology or the life sciences.

The first time I wrote Jim Moroney, I had concerns that newspapers across the country were missing stories of local and national interest. I mentioned the fact that a local woman owned business won a major department of Homeland Security contract, that Secretary Tom Ridge came to the area and presented Jo Balderas with an award.

Secretary Ridge gave the award to Mrs. Balderas of YHD Software for giving the Dallas FBI an Emergeny Response Network System that provided major assistance during the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Space Shuttle Disaster the next year.

I had an interest in this event because the system deployed LAMP. YHD Software gave the system to the FBI as part of an outreach program. I also found it of interest because it used Red Hat, Apache, MySQL and PhP. I thought it deserved coverage on the part of our major newspaper.

Jim had his cub reporter, Crayton Harrison email me. He wrote:

Tom, Jim Moroney requested that I give you a call. I cover technology here at the DMN. Please let me know where I can phone you.

It took Crayton three weeks to reply after I sent him my phone number. We met for lunch where I learned he had recently graduated from SMU. He seemed enthralled by a recent trip to Redmond and told me of the wonders of Microsoft.

When I mentioned Linux, he replied that people's eyes glaze over when they hear about Linux. But, he told me how Microsoft gave him a major presentation on how they combated Linux and showed him numerous examples in the equivalent of a "Get the Facts" for journalists show.

A couple of weeks later, Crayton did a major weekend spread on the wonders of Microsoft. He simply regurgitated Microsoft spin. He continued writing more Microsoft stories until I stopped reading the paper. I guess he felt the need to aid the economy of Redmond rather than Dallas.

What about the Homeland Security award? Well, Crayton and his editors missed that. They didn't show up for the press conference. In fact, the news missed Tom Ridge's visit to the area.

Unique to Dallas-Ft. Worth?

I wondered whether the Dallas Morning News had put its entire budget on the sports section. They have award winning coverage of the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, Stars and the Texas Rangers. If Jerry Jones takes a deep breath they might cover it. They have several columnists including one devoted to covering other professional football teams. They also devote coverage to every high school sport you can imagine. I didn't mention the multiple sections and extravaganzas related to state championships, the Rose Bowl, etc.

People say Dallas ranks high among sports towns. I haven't seen much difference in the rest of the country. I do travel and have for a couple of decades. I have made it to approximately the top 200 cities in America. I read the local papers.

What do you get in the local newspapers around the US? With a few exceptions, management of the major daily newspapers devote their best resources to gladiatorial games such as football. If they don't have one of the 32 NFL franchises, they cover the local colleges. Austin covers everything Texas Longhorns as if their 18-21 year old ball players provide more interest than the Nobel Laureates at the school.

So, if you wondered if your local newspaper's lack of technology coverage seemed aberrated, don't. The local newspaper hires people like cub reporter, Crayton Harrison to promote the economy. And people like Crayton don't appear to have a clue how to find news in the local community. When they do, it's not much coverage.

What About Linux

Dallas has spawned some major Linux companies. Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and dot.com billionaire, got coverage of his Linux startup Broadcast.com. But, the use of Linux did not get a mention.

We also have a major telecom presence in the area including Nokia, Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Alcatel, Nortel, Cisco and 250 small and important companies. Many of those companies use Linux. And according to Clayton Harrison people's eyes glaze over. So, if it doesn't say Microsoft, it doesn't exist.

Not a rant

I do not consider this a rant. I consider it muckraking. President Theodore Roosevelt in a speech in 1906 originated the word muckrake. He applied the name to American journalists, novelists, and critics who in the first decade of the 20th Century attempted to expose the abuses of business and the corruption in politics. The President agreed with many of the charges of the muckrakers but asserted that some of their methods were sensational and irresponsible. What did he know about sensationalism?

Roosevelt would have considered Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post muckrakers. You have to believe Richard Nixon did. So, please realize that a role exists in journalism for muckraking.

In the first decade of the 21st Century, muckrakers may evolve from Internet news. You won't find many muckrakers attempting to expose the abuses of business and the corruption in politics in the major newspapers. You might find out how great the Seattle Seahawks played this weekend, though.

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Your not the only muckraker... oilyfish 5 1,514 Jan 16, 2006 12:04 PM
Shooting themsleves in the foot bstadil 0 1,518 Jan 16, 2006 11:33 AM

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