HBO’s John Oliver causes stir locally and nationally with newspaper segment – Philly.com (blog)











In just over two days, John Oliver’s funny yet poignant segment on his HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight that offered a defense of the beleaguered newspaper industry has racked up more than 3 million views.



Trust, the media and elections

The 19-minute spot concisely laid out the perils facing the newspaper industry, including weighing the difficult balance between producing aggregated content and digging for hard-hitting investigative journalism, as well as surviving on an outdated business model.

“A big part of the blame for this industry’s dire straits is on us,” Oliver said on Sunday, “and our unwillingness to pay for the work journalists produce.”



While scores of journalists and pundits alike applauded Oliver’s tough love, some others took offense.

David Chavern, CEO of the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), criticized the show’s intentions in an open letter posted to the organization’s website on Monday.

“[O]ther than encouraging people to ‘pay for’ more news,” Chavern wrote, “he doesn’t offer any answers … more particularly, he spends most of the piece making fun of publishers who are just trying to figure it out.

“I would just ask Mr. Oliver to spend more time talking about what the future of news could be,” Chavern added, “and less time poking fun at publishers who are trying to get there.”

Many of Chavern’s contemporaries didn’t agree.

Marty Baron – The Washington Post’s executive editor, and one of the real-life inspirations behind the Oscar-winning movie Spotlight – was one of them:

Chavern’s concerns also drew criticism locally.

(Boardman is Dean of the School of Media and Communication at Temple University.)

And, it seems, spawned more praise for John Oliver’s message.

(Egger is publisher of Philadelphia Media Network, the parent company of Philly.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.)

(Brennan covers politics for Philadelphia Media Network.)











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