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tv   Book Discussion on Emus Loose in Egnar  CSPAN  May 24, 2015 1:00pm-1:21pm EDT

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on. i wonder -- i should say i hope that while legally there may be room for improvement, culturally things have shifted. i would like to think women make up almost 50% of the workforce. the largest are now in managerial positions. do we see a positive future for women workers in america? >> guest: we do see it. women are working. i think as a society we are grappling with it and moving slowly in the right direction. but i think so. >> host: i still feel very optimistic about the future of the united states and opportunities for women and girls. final thoughts if you had to tell young girl today who maybe doesn't have the educational for financial opportunities ahead of her that you and i have benefited from what would you recommend? what would you say she can do to
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make things better for herself? >> guest: that is a hard question. i think having an open mind to what kinds of jobs they will pursue. he talked about before women are paid categorically less than male professions even with the same skills and experience. if you can think about going into one of those fields that are dominated by men, you will have a chance to make a higher salary. i would say that is something to think about. >> host: i found this to be a fascinating book what do you agree or disagree it starts an important conversation about working women in america. i really enjoyed this conversation. >> guest: i did as well. >> host: good thank you.
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.. >> guest: ing what means this? yes. well, that's a police blotter item from a small newspaper in colorado, and the town is egnar. and they wanted range but that was taken. so they spelled it backwards which gives you an idea about the town. and there was a rancher raising emus, but his neighbors didn't know about this and they got out. of course, the police dispatcher
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was getting call after call about these prehistoric-looking creatures. people either called the sheriff, or they stopped drinking. that was the answer to that. [laughter] but big stores from small towns, this is emblematic. the police blotter item is one part of what makes local newspapers so charming. >> host: well the first sentence in your book is, this just in, journalism is not dead. >> guest: that's right. i was so sick of sitting on panels about is journalism dead, and what about the business model and this huge digital revolution that we're going through, which is actually a very exciting time. but i wondered about the weeklies out there the kind of papers i grew up with, the kind of paper i started on, how are they doing? i thought i better get this while the getting's good, because they're probably going to go out of business too. and i found the opposite. about 10,000 weekly newspapers with populations under 30,000, say were thriving. they weren't just surviving,
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they were thriving. and the reason is people couldn't get that news anywhere else. they covered that town, and you can't find out who's marrying who, who's dying who's doing what, what the mayor's up to, is he corrupt or is he not. anywhere else but that paper. >> host: and are they still printing that, or is it online. >> guest: both. most of them are making it over to the online side too. they do both, generally, and it's a subscription. and people are willing to pay let's say $20 a year to get the news from their hometown. they can look it up and see what's happening even though they may be far away have moved away, but it's one way to keep in touch. and so the advertising, the legal ads are still important. if municipalities take away the legal advertising, which is such a sharp important funding for these papers, and go online wit that could be a problem. but so far they're doing quite well.
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now, when i say "quite well," i mean you can make a living and live in a nice place, the town you want to live in. your not going to get -- you're not going to get rich, but that's quite well these days with journalism. >> host: you're not going to get rich as the owner of one of these locals. >> guest: not really. especially if it's not a chain, you know? generally, chains that have little local outlets aren't as invested in the journalism. they're more invested in the ads. and the coupons and that kind of thing. but i went around the country interviewing editors and reporters, which is often the same thing. it's often a one or two or three-man newsroom and woman. and i was so impressed with the passion they bring to this, the standards, the ethics. they do it under tremendously tough pressures. it's hard to report on your neighbors, you know? it's one thing for me to report on people in los angeles around the world, but when the guy
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lives next door to you and doesn't like what you said even though it's the truth that comes back to you at the grocery store in the checkout line when people are giving you the cold shoulder, you know? one thing that i found is the people who do best are people who are married, happily married, and can go home to somebody at night and share some of these woes with -- it can be very lonely if you're a purr i suerover -- pursuer of truth and you're alone in a town. >> host: if you are a pursuer of truth in a small town and -- how many punches do you pull? >> guest: well, that's -- there's a range of ways to do this. some people bury the lead. i remember in my little hometown in norwood colorado where i go in the summers there was an item about a town council meeting in which a lot of people showed up to protest this new cop they hired. pulling over dui stops and they
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came to protest. and at very end of the article there was one quote, and it said the mayor admonished people that if they were going to come to town council meetings they had to not with inebriated next time. that would be the lead anywhere else. the bunch of drunks came to protest the new dui pressures. you have to read these things a little bit like the dead sea scrolls. you have to know how to translate. there are some very, very brave editors and there's a courage in journalism award that the university of kentucky awards and i visited a couple of those places. she's amazing, and she's had gunshots fired at her windows because she has taken on strong stands. her own brother, who is a city official -- yes, that's lori -- stopped talking to her for a year because she took him to task for violating sunshine laws open public meetings act.
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so, you know, that's a tough, tough woman. and she's one of my heroes. on other end of the spectrum are what i call chamber of commerce kinds of go along to get along editors. and i don't know how many of those there are, but in lake woe be gone the fictional place that garrison keillor created, the name of the local editor's harold starr, and he is the editor of the herald star and his quote on the mass haled is, hey i have to live here too. [laughter] that would be the other extreme you know? i'm not going to say anything that rocks the boat. >> host: are these small town newspapers attracting recent journalist students? >> guest: i don't think so. >> host: recent grads? >> guest: but i wish they were. i push it here at usc and, of course usc's in the city and our student sos tend to have more -- students tend to be more metro metropolitan, and i teach broadcast so that's different too. but this is a great opportunity
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for young journalists who want to really make a difference and have an impact. one reporter/editor i met he's now in new mexico and now owns the guadalupe county communicator, he was one of the rocky mountain news' biggest correspondents. and the rocky bit the dust, like so many newspapers are. when that happened he went around and sort of kicked the tires on various papers in new mexico because that's where he wanted to live and where he's from, and he found this paper. and he has -- he wins all the awards every year in new mexico. the paper's amazing. he he brought along a photographer and an editorial cartoonist. i mean, this town didn't know what hit them this quality paper, all of a sudden. and he stuck with it. i think this is now ten years he's been there. it's hard. he sometimes hand delivers to mailboxes. he's everything.
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>> what's the subscription size of a small town newspaper? are they getting 50 percent of the town? are they getting 30 percent of the town? >> guest: it depends. lori brown in the panhandle of texas, people line up on the day that the paper comes from the printer. there's a -- she has a flag out. she puts a green flag out it's the paper's here and people line up. now, i think that's unusual. it's such a good paper. but people buy it at the local store, you know for 25 cents. as i said, subscriptions don't really pay the freight here. it's ads. it's legal ads. that's a what -- sometimes you can get a patron which helps. >> host: young people, are they subscribing to these local papers or is it the older population? >> guest: oh, i think young people subscribe to them because i've often said as long as there are refrigerator magnets, there will be local papers.
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if you were the high school quarterback star of the football team and your picture's on the front page with the winning touchdown at the state championships, you're going to clip that out and put it on the refrigerator. so i think as long as it's about you, it's going to survive. and that's what local papers are they're all about you who live in this town. >> host: judy mull muller what do you teach here at usc? >> guest: i teach broadcast journalism at the annenberg school. i was a correspondent for abc news for 15 years and before that cbs news. so my background is primarily in broadcast, radio and television. but before that my very first journalism job was at a small weekly newspaper in new jersey where i really, i really got hooked. i mean, we were, we thought we were just so great. there were three of us, and we were all in our 20s: and we would take on the mayor. now, in new jersey there are a few more kind of crooked politicians than most places, or there used to be. [laughter]
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and so it was kind of easy pickings. but we would write editorials and commentaries, and we'd go out, and we were crusaders. it really was fun and i've never forgotten that feeling. and that's -- i just love local papers. >> host: have these local papers become chains? >> guest: some of them have. and to survive some of them have. the ones that have been in the family passed down from father to son or daughter, they have a certain amount of pride of ownership that's very important to them. the chain it's a little bit more difficult because your publisher may live in another town. so when you get an ethical dilemma -- and they come up all the time -- and you try to get ahold of him or her and try to get an answer, it can be tough. and i think that that's why they had these state press conventions. and these are the folks who come to those. i mean, they just love those conventions because everybody shares their woes, what would you do in the situation what
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did you do because it isn't such a hands-on deal with the publisher in those chains. and they're kind of proud. they don't always want to reach out to find out what they should do. a lot of them don't have journalism training, it's on-the-job training. so, you know, it's really a potpourri of all kinds of ownership and standards. i tried to visit a whole range of things. but i just fell in love with so many of these papers and the people the curmudgeons and the characters really who run them. you have to be really tough. you have to have a lot of grit. and they are tough. they'd say, well, you know, that's very nice. you come and do a story about us but you can only come on thursdays and fridays because we're busy the rest of the week reporting, and they are. you have to come folding newspapers and getting them out and putting the coupons for the grocery store inside. and that's still people
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unfolding, you know, those kinds of things. and friday is their day off. and to give me the time talk to me on their one day off some of them don't even take christmas week off. it's a tough go. you have to love it. >> host: what's one of the families that have passed down their newspaper from generation to generation that impressed you? >> guest: well, lori uzell her father hand down to her, and he started that paper in texas in the '40s. but the family, i think that really stands out is the beacon, is the gish family in kentucky. they started the mountain eagle -- actually, they bought a paper called the mountain eagle ben gish and his wife, back in the '30s or '40s. and they changed the slogan on the masthead to the mountain eagle, it screams. and this is coal country, and they took on poverty they took on abuse by the coal companies
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against the miners. their offices were burned down at one point, turned out that it was a local cop who'd been hired by one of the coal guys to burn the office down. and he was so proud of this, he went around with a vanity plate that said eagle burner. and the family got the paper out next week anyway even though their offices were in ashes. they did it from their home, and the masthead that week read "the mountain eagle, it still screams." and it's just such a triumph. they are the ones who brought attention to the poverty in the area that brought down homer biggert from "the new york times" who came down and wrote a whole series. first, he read this stuff and thought, oh, they have to be exaggerating. and he went down, and he said if
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anything, they're underplaying the horror to down here in these hills. and that led to lyndon johnson's war on poverty. so it started with the mountain eagle. i just love that story. >> host: judy muller, "the new york times" for a long time owned a lot of smaller papers. did they get down into the into the local weeklies? >> guest: i don't know. no, i don't think so now. i really didn't look at that, so i really looked more at infeint weeklies. there are -- independent weeklies. there are a couple like the one in my hometown norwood, colorado that is owned by something of a chain. he owns three papers including one in telluride which is just up the river from us. we like to think we're telluride adjacent but our town is just a thousand people. and they're the people who work in telluride or ranchers. and so our paper kind of, it kind of became the taco in the taco shell of the bigger paper in telluride.
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oh and by the way here's what's going on in norwood, you know? and that's too bad because i'd love to see a more thriving paper come back. >> host: but if you're in a town like telluride colorado, and ranching and skiing is the livelihood of your area, what kind of pressures do these publishers face not to report negative stories about this industry? >> guest: that's a very good question. i talked -- they weren't really highlighted in my book because the resort town to me didn't really fit my definition of small towns but i wanted to find that question out and i asked marta tarbell who was then the owner and editor of one of the bigger -- it's a daily in telluride. and she said, she was trained in new york. her husband had worked for the village voice, and they were you know, hard core journalists. they came to telluride, and what they found out was that you bend your rules a little bit. we are taught never -- you don't read your article or let the person see the article before
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it's published as though they want to apave it. but -- approve it. but just to relax people a little bit and get them to trust you, you might say look, i'm going to write this up, and you can take a look and make sure your quotes are accurate. people would see themselves in print and go, oh, i didn't say that even though you might have proof they did. you just wouldn't get that -- go down that road. but in a small town, it makes a big difference. the ski industry and real estate is it's a tough one because all your friends, again it's the people who live next door to you are working at the ski area, they are working in real estate, and their livelihoods depend on this. and if you write negative things about those industries, it can come back at ya. those people were happily married, luckily. [laughter] to each other and, you know they'd come home and have somebody to complain about. >> host: and we have got a rather famous journalistic name don't they?
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tarbelle? >> guest: i don't know if she's -- i never asked that. i'll have to ask her. they sold the paper. i think they'd kind of had it. but they did a good job for a long time. and now it's part of a group. >> host: well we kicked off this conversation, and the first thing you said was i think the digital revolution is wonderful. why is that? >> guest: oh i think this is the most exciting time. even though people say oh, it's got to be the worst time to be a newspaper reporter that may be true unless your -- you're trained for what's coming and that's what we're doing here at annenberg, if i may put in a plug. our students do everything, they shoot the thing, they edit, they can do audio, they can write according to the great old standards that we believe in that we think makes this a professional school. they learn social media so that they know how to interact with their readership in a much more real way. so i think it's a very exciting time to watch old model blow up
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and see what's going to settle and whether the cream will rise to the top as people demand good journalism, and they will. where will they go and what will it look like? "the new york times" has done a very good job with their web site. once they figured out we better get people to pay for this, you know we can't pay our reporters once they went behind the pay wall it made sense. but i think that this is as big or bigger than what happened to the world when the guttenberg printing press cape out. came out. the internet is equally or more as life changing to press and information and democracy. i mean, look what it's doing around the world. the arab spring wouldn't have happened without social media and people out there with cameras and reporting has just become a whole different, you know animal. >> host: so in a sense these one-man bands that you're training are the same one-man bands that are running these local


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