Kurtz: Newspapers “Last Line Of Defense” For Serious Reporting

Earlier today, Howard Kurtz held his weekly chat where he covered such topics as last-minute campaign ads; media performance during the campaign; and the flagging newspaper industry. Some excerpts:

Laurel, Md.: Have there been any particularly nasty or unfair weekend-before ads? The kind the candidate hopes only reach the desired audience before they can be dissected?

Howard Kurtz: Not really, at least not from the campaigns. Obama put up a last-minute ad Sunday that touted his endorsements by Colin Powell and Warren Buffett and then said McCain had been endorsed by…Dick Cheney. There was even a sound bite from Cheney. No distortion there. But pretty amazing that a vice president, to no one’s surprise, backs the nominee of his own party, and it winds up in a commercial for the other side.

Montreal: Hi Howard, as the campaign comes to a close, are there any stories that you feel the media, in general, did an especially good job on? And the reverse? Thanks for chatting, it’s always a pleasure.

Howard Kurtz: We were all over that lipstick on a pig thing. And the Paris Hilton ad? We ruled on that one. McCain’s seven houses? Edwards’s $400 haircut? Hillary’s laugh? Palin’s wardrobe? It was hard to beat our intrepid coverage.

Fairfax, Va.: I keep reading stories about papers losing ad revenue and subscriptions. papers becoming web-only, etc. Who is going to do the original reporting that blogs and cable news comment on if newspapers go out of business?

Howard Kurtz: The answer: No one. Obviously good journalism is practiced elsewhere, but newspapers are really the last line of defense for serious and sustained reporting, especially at the local level. So here’s hoping they can figure out a way to not just stay in business but to thrive in the new media environment that is transforming the world we all live in.