The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has announced that its entire news staff will be replaced by the community columnists it has been using in its editorial section because of the popularity of the concept. A press release indicated that readership numbers have increased since the pilot program of using real Milwaukee-area writers began. These writers use little or no research and have no ethical responsibility for what they write, but the readers have seen the articles as more interesting than the normal news.
The community columnists will continue to report on actual news events, but they will offer their take on the situation rather than ask people involved in the story. Credible sources like Fox News will be used for most of the Journal Sentinel’s national and international stories, unless a community columnist has recently traveled to one of the places mentioned in the news.
Journalism professors from local colleges held a sparsely-attended press conference to denounce the new method of reporting, but the Journal Sentinel defended its decision. The paper said they have a responsibility to their shareholders and advertisers to sell newspapers, not to accurately report the news, citing the television and radio “news” programs as examples of how news has changed over the years. If their readers want to read a blog by a high school freshman instead of an investigative report on the deep sewer project, then the blog wins, they affirmed. “This is a democratic nation,” one editor noted, “and as such, we want to give every uneducated hack a chance at writing for us. We’re just appealing to the lowest common denominator here anyhow. And that denominator is pretty low, so get ready for some interesting reporting.”
Community columnists are not expected to sit through long public policy hearings or sift through legal documents. Rather, they will ask someone else what happened and generate an opinion based on that information, just as most Americans do with local and national news entertainment as it is. “No one watches FOX News to learn anything new. Rather, they want their own convictions affirmed. We can provide that at the Journal Sentinel, as well.”
Editors will keep their jobs, mostly to edit grammatical errors, and fact checking will no longer be necessary. However, all of the current sections will still exist. The Cue section will be expanded to include more Hollywood gossip and photos. The Sports section will also be expanded, along with other popular sections, like letters to the editor, which will now only be accepted via email. Journalists are expected to move on to more lucrative public relations jobs in the corporate world, and they may very well write “articles” for the new Business section, which will allow business-generated content to be published as it is submitted, without the annoying “Special Advertising Section” tag. The plan, according to the newspaper, is to allow people to decide what is truth and what is propaganda throughout the paper.