Cue the theme from "Jaws"

jawsSo, are many newsrooms in the allegedly "American" media poised to plunge back into history and become "European" newspapers again, publications that openly advocate specific political and even theological points of view? To look at it another way, is the nonNewsweek phenomenon going to come to your local newspaper?

After all, it's impossible to do real news on the Internet, right? Everything turns into a blog, right?

That's the question that a loyal GetReligion reader asked after hearing that the Ann Arbor (Mich.) News is closing this July or, more accurately, evolving into the new AnnArbor.com.

What does this have to do with religion news?

It seems that the "content director" -- maybe that means "editor" -- of the new project has been giving online interviews to a former journalist named Jim Carty. As it turns out, editor Tony Dearing has been very blunt. Let's jump in for a bit of this longer interview:

CARTY: I think one of the many criticisms of newspaper websites has been that they haven't had a lot of personality. Salon has a personality. Slate has a personality. The AnnArborChronicle has a personality. Have you thought at all about the personality you want this site to have, or even that you do want it to have one?

DEARING: It will have a personality. We're going to ask reporters to be themselves and blog according to who they are. To write according to who they are. To speak with their own voice. I think the future in journalism is you tell people who you are, you tell them what your biases are, you tell them where you come from, this is where I'm coming from and what I'm reporting, and you let other people pile in and bring their own views. Now, I don't want somebody who is mild-mannered to pretend they're obnoxious or anything. ...

I don't think John Stewart is all that wrong. If something's crap, you can kind of say, 'This doesn't make a lot of sense to me." People will understand what you're coming from and what you think. They ask, "How can they say that."

CARTY: That sounds like a lot more latitude for opinion than within a traditional newspaper. Is that a fair take?

DEARING: Yeah, I would say so. That's what I envision -- more opinion, more attitude, more candor. We all have done stories where what we wrote and what we thought were two completely different things. We will try to write what we really think the story is, and not necessarily the traditional story form.

No, the subject of religion coverage doesn't come up. But you know that this kind of old-fashioned, "European," advocacy journalism will affect some of the hottest issues in our culture -- think abortion, marriage, education, religious liberty, etc. So the journalists get to express their opinions in content and story selection and then readers get to protest in the comments pages?

Oh my. Is this the brave new world of news?

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