Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Enough with the polls and the lists

It recently occurred to me that sometime in the recent past mainstream media outlets have turned over the decision on what is newsworthy/presentable to any knucklehead capable of social networking. Surely providing content centered on things people are interested in is an important part of providing news and entertainment to the masses, but turning what seems like over 50% of the process over results in many shortcomings. There are a lot of cases where viewer provided content makes up an increasingly larger portion of what we consider modern news and entertainment. For example, shows including local Fox morning news, the Jimmy Fallon show, and Sportsnation include large segements devoted completely to viewer provided content via social media including Twitter and Facebook. Polls, lists, and questions that generate viewer’s comments are not of much interest to me in most traditional media outlets like television and newspaper. They have a place, and we know where to find them, that would be where they are generated. News is not the results of a poll, jokes told by Mr. Fallon should not be the brainstorm of his Tweeter following, and proposing a question and reporting it’s responses off a Facebook page is not journalism.

Where this seems to hit home for me right now is The Plain Dealer's recent reporting on the local restaurant happening. Spending three weeks polling people as to their favorite pizza shop seems like a waste. Printing a list of the areas 100 best bars is not news. I understand that any establishment that can get their name in print might get excited, but this does not provide any meaningful information to us as readers. I cannot remember the last time I looked to the PD for any meaningful local restaurant information or news. Cleveland Foodie is leaps and bounds ahead of the PD in quality, consistent, trustworthy local restaurant news.

What would make for quality content? It would be great to read short bites about local restaurant menu changes, wine/beer dinners, and or promotions. Connecting home cooks to restaurant quality product would also be a nice read specifically when it concerns two local establishments. Honest reviews of smaller community bases restaurants with a lower price point would be great. In a lot of cases it’s difficult to weed through these types of establishments, but there is a huge difference in quality between a scratch kitchen and a thaw and heat kitchen. Lastly take a look into the little guys. There seems to be less than 10 local chefs/restaurateurs/culinary establishments that are constantly in the paper, and they deserve it in most cases, on the other hand I think someone is just lazy and not willing to look any further. There are hard working dedicated food service workers on every corner, everywhere you look, behind everywhere you look and most likely beyond that as well. Many people are working very hard long honest days to connect with a customer base and it seems like a golden opportunity for everyone if the PD was to drop the pizza poll and put a little effort into their local restaurant coverage.

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