I just got an email from a newsroom veteran at the Union-Tribune whom I admire and respect. He sheds some light on my concern below about the polling the paper did this summer asking readers how important they thought investigative journalism was.
He didn’t want to be named but he agreed to let me share it with you. If he says this is how it is, I’m inclined to believe him.
The U-T polling about investigate reporting, referred to in your blog, had nothing to do with newsroom priorities. You may recall that the newspaper aired commercials for a couple of weeks touting our watchdog reporting. The polling, which was conducted both before and after the ad buy, was done by our marketing department to ascertain the effectiveness of the commercials. Standard procedure in the ad biz.
Incidentally, the survey found that public awareness of the importance of watchdog reporting increased as a result of the advertising campaign.
The U-T is definitely going through some kind of contraction. But hopefully a competitive local media environment centered on in-depth and investigative reporting will continue to develop after this correction is complete.
Perhaps they should limit the contraction to the editorial board.