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Media reform conference opens in Memphis

SHOWCASE | January 12, 2007

A little about the Memphis news media, by correspondent John Branston, a longtime Memphis reporter.

By John Branston

MEMPHISSo what’s the deal with the media in Memphis, host city for the National Conference for Media Reform?

[Audio feeds of the panel sessions and video of some of the main speakers are put on the Freepress’s conference Web site as they become available. Other Nieman Watchdog stories on the conference can be found here.]

Memphis has one daily newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, owned by E. W. Scripps. It’s a morning paper, with a daily circulation that hovers above and below 150,000 depending on the day of the week. The Sunday circ is over 200,000.

Scripps used to own an afternoon daily too, but closed it in 1983.

You can see local television news just about around the clock on four stations. The New York Times Co. just divested itself of one of them. On radio, the big power is Clear Channel.

The weekly Memphis Flyer, 16 years old, provides regular coverage of politics, news, and arts. It’s owned by the same company (local) that owns and publishes Memphis magazine, a monthly that is nearly 30 years old. The weekly Memphis Business Journal, the black-owned Tri-State Defender, and a small tabloid, The Daily News which has increased its news coverage, round out the print picture along with several suburban papers.

The big stories lately have been Harold Ford Jr.’s unsuccessful race for the United States Senate, the woes of the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, and a crime wave that has the mayor asking for 500 more cops. With 30,000 employees, FedEx is the lifeblood of the city.

The blog scene is active, and a sample can be viewed at www.memphisflyer.com. Check one called Mediaverse for especially good coverage of local media.

The conference made the cover of The Memphis Flyer this week and was also on the front page of Friday’s Commercial Appeal (www.commercialappeal.com) , which has vowed to cover it diligently and take constructive criticism

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