It’s funny, and a little distressing, to watch clips of local television news personalities in different cities reading from the same canned script. It’s a reminder of just how inauthentic and goofy local TV coverage can be.
But cookie-cutter journalism began with newspapers, and was perfected by the first chain, founded by E.W. Scripps. More than a century later, the ethic of cut-and-paste is still alive there, even as the chain gets shorter and smaller and Scripps prepares to exit the newspaper business altogether. Here are editors (and one publisher) with E.W. Scripps papers telling readers about an upgrade in their digital presentation, including a website redesign:
Michael Kelly, San Angelo, Texas, Standard-Times (July 12, 2014): “Across San Angelo we see evidence of new investments in our community’s future. Business is expanding, new housing developments are being built, our colleges are adding educational and training offerings and growth is evidence everywhere. … “
Tim Archuleta, Corpus Christi Caller-Times (June 8, 2014): “All across Corpus Christi we see evidence of new investments in our community’s future. Major industry is expanding, neighborhoods are growing, colleges are adding educational and training offerings, and even a favorite downtown coffeehouse is remodeling. …”
Shanna Cannon, Redding, Calif., Record Searchlight (July 8, 2014): “All across the North State we see evidence of new investments in our community’s future. Major industry is expanding, neighborhoods are growing, colleges are adding educational and training offerings, and downtown Redding continues its efforts around revitalization with projects such as Inside Out Redding and the Riverfront Playhouse project. …”
Doug Williamson, Abilene, Texas, Reporter News: “Things are looking brighter in Abilene. There’s some good investment going on in town. You’re seeing new businesses coming and current ones expanding. …”
To their credit, at least five Scripps editors deviated from the script, and wrote their own ledes. (Some self-congratulatory, of course, as in this one from Manny Garcia of the Naples News (July 6, 2014): “We have a terrific newsroom, driven to own the big story, deliver intelligent commentary, produce stunning visuals and be your public watchdog. …”)
And there are still a couple papers in the chain that have yet to switch to the new design.
E.W. Scripps has been squeezing all of its newsrooms for years, providing less and less locally produced editorial work and more canned content. It used to make more of an effort to disguise that fact. (On July 30, 2014, Scripps made official what many expected: it is getting out of the newspaper business.)