It may astonish some of our readers, but, just as we believe that competition in business spheres is good for the economy, so do we believe that journalistic competition is good for the pursuit of truth, the investigation and
exposure of mendacity, the generation of ideas, and the provision of coherent purpose and enlightenment for the community. All of that is part and parcel of what journalism in general and newspapers in particular are meant to do.
We might add to the foregoing list of benefits that good, lively, probing journalism is good for business, too — the business of the community as well as, let it be acknowledged, our own. Of course. We were most recently reminded of this by a spirited and revealing dissertation to the Memphis Rotary Club by George Cogswell III, the president and publisher of The Commercial Appeal. Cogswell outlined for the Rotarians a detailed seven-point plan which he intends for the daily newspaper to follow to meet the challenges of the post-recession, digital age, as well as revealing some of the CA's outreach strategies — including various ways of, as he put it, "improving the lives of children." All well and good.
In our news pages over the years we have commented on the ups and downs, zigs and zags, and evolutionary development of The Commercial Appeal, as we have those of the other institutions and personalities, public and private, that are prominent in the community. We have nothing to add to that in this space, other than to wish the CA well as it goes forward. There's no sense in dissembling about it. They're the big boys on the block, and the way in which Cogswell and interim editor Louis Graham, a stellar investigative reporter of the not-too-distant past, handle their challenges will be illuminating to the rest of us in the trade.
In some ways, all of us in the news media business need each other to provide competition and to spur us on to improve our own products. Cogswell's public acknowledgment at the Rotary gathering that he is a Flyer reader reflects this outlook. To be sure, his acknowledgment of such was in relation to the fact that he has noticed — for better and for worse — that some of his erstwhile CA online commenters are now showing up on our website. But, as he made it clear later on in conversation, Cogswell's attitude toward the competition — that's us, among others — is that, news-wise and in other ways, competition is good for everybody.
Elaborating, he made it clear that, while many of his strategies for the future are of the multi-platform variety (meaning addressing every imaginable kind of digital apparatus), he is a firm believer in print and went on to pledge that the CA, on his watch, will never go the way of so many once iconic newspapers that have either become all-digital in format or have taken to appearing three times a week.
We, too, are sworn to uphold print as a linchpin form of newsgathering and reporting, and we, too, are simultaneously exploring the new age in digital media for all that it is worth. It's a journey on which we're happy to have company.