Eagle editor discusses future of journalism at CCBC
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 11:51

Matrazzo one of four guest panelists

by Ben Boehl

    Eagle editor Steve Matrazzo was one of four members on a panel at CCBC Dundalk that was invited to discuss professions in the communications field.    
    The event was part of the CCBC Communications Degree Program, which was organized by  communications professor Sheri Trivane at the Dundalk campus. 
    “We brought a working array of people who are working in communications,” Trivane said to the group of CCBC students in attendance.

Matrazzo was joined by Monique Armstrong, a public relations representative from Baltimore City Public Schools, James O’Toole, who was the press secretary for former world champion figure skater Kimmie Meissner and sign language interpreter Renuka Purimetla.
    Matrazzo described his unusual career path, starting out as a college dropout from Washington and Lee University, followed by a 20-year period of working in manufacturing before coming to the Eagle in 2006.
    Although he acknowledged that digital media is growing and print media has been on a downward trend, Matrazzo said he doesn’t believe print is near extinction and says that digital media still is far from a perfect business model.
    He explained with  print there is a circulation model where advertising rates have been providing value, but the boundaries of digital media are unknown.
 “Print is very well-established. You know how many people the paper is going to, but these things haven’t been established on the Web,” Matrazzo said. “Digital media is in its infancy. We have no idea on how it will shake out.”
    One area of concern for online publications and blogs, he said, is that many writers are on their own. There is usually no editor to proofread their text, and no fact checking.
    “I have no particular complaint against a news blog, but unfortunately, it has opened the door to those without credibility in reporting,” Matrazzo added.
    CCBC professor R. Michael Walsh attended the discussion and told Matrazzo that he gave his students a poll of four publications (three dailies and the weekly Dundalk Eagle) and asked them which one has the most potential for longevity.    
    Walsh said The Eagle was ranked number one because it is a community newspaper. Walsh added that local newspapers provide the obituaries, birth announcements, the honor roll, police blotter, etc.
    “We felt like it was a newspaper that spoke to the community,” Walsh said. “We are more likely to read a once a week newspaper instead of a daily.”
    Matrazzo reminded the students that whether journalism continues on print or eventually goes all digital, that the ethics of journalism need to remain.
    He referred to the incident when CNN’s Candy Crowley corrected Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney after he stated that President Barack Obama took days to call the Benghazi attack in Libya an “act of terror,”
    Crowley pointed out that Obama called the attack an “act of terror” during his remarks on Sept. 12, one day after the tragedy. Matrazzo said that Crowley got criticized for jumping into the discussion, but she did the right thing.
    He gave an example of a similar incident that he had with Sen. Nancy Jacobs during the Republican primary debate this spring where he corrected her on a fact that she made about forcing Catholic hospitals into performing abortions. Matrazzo stated he corrected Jacobs and Crowley had the right to correct Romney.
    “It’s the journalist’s right to do that, and it’s the journalist’s responsibility to do that,” Matrazzo said.
    A lighter moment of the event came when some of the computer software used was experiencing technical difficulties. It helped Matrazzo make his point that better technology doesn’t always result in a better finished project.
    “There are times when you see that ‘old-school’ pays off,” Matrazzo said with a smile.