Chicago Tribune Public Editor Timothy J. McNulty addressed reader discontent over his paper's decision to include in its January 6 paper that week's syndicated Parade magazine insert featuring an outdated cover story and interview with the late Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. The story was written and the magazine published days before Bhutto's murder.
McNulty shared some reader e-mails as well as feedback from Tribune editors, making a point to emphasize that the Trib has no control over Parade's editing nor publication schedule and that the Trib did include an editor's note in the paper about the outdated nature of the Parade insert.
But while McNulty did a good job dealing with this particular controversy, he failed to look at a larger issue that the Parade incident fleshes out: the logistical and editorial weaknesses of traditional print media in a 24/7 news cycle, and how that could push more news consumers away from print and towards online media.
Forget the label "old media," the Parade distribution model in this case seems jurassic, woefully outdated given the nature of the modern news cycle, and particularly so if the Sunday magazine wishes to report on anything of global political import rather than say Hollywood fluff.
Because the Trib's handling of the matter seems ham-handed, it also calls into question the relevance and reliability of newspaper print editions in an unforgiving, 24/7 media universe that's becoming more and more dominated by Internet-based media.
SEE ALSO related NewsBusters post: "Ouch: Parade Sunday Insert Touts Bhutto Interview -- As If She Lived"