South Park Gives Jarvis a Newspaper

Tonight’s South Park episode, Stanley’s Cup, opens with Stan applying with the South Park Gazette’s grey haired “Mr. Jarvis” for a job as a delivery boy. [UPDATE: South Park used a "Detective Jarvis" to investigate Chef at the end of last season. This YouTube clip of the Detective is just wrong and not work-place safe.] There is no indication that the South Park Jarvis “gets it” or if he is as concerned with the future of newspapers as is the real life Jersey version. Earlier this week he posted on NewAssignment.net’s exciting hiring of John McQuaid , a 20 year veteran of the Times-Picayune and author of the lauded Path of Destruction, as contributing editor:

He is exactly where papers should be putting their investment: in unique reporting, real value for the community. But his investigative role was killed, before Katrina, and he chose not to become a paper-pusher on a desk…McQuaid remains a reporter, only now an independent one. He’s going to contribute to NewAssignment.net.

Here’s McQuaid in his interview with Jay Rosen:

Newspapers remain key venues for probing, public service-oriented journalism…But no matter how important or interesting they are, investigations don’t pay the bills… I’d like to help new, Internet-based forums, emerge locally and nationally to do investigative or explanatory journalism. And of course we need readers, advertisers and financial backers to go with them.

This is a great era for news— government accountability has all but disappeared…That said, I’m not sure how what this new form will look like. The newspaper investigation is basically a static form: journalists work for weeks or months on a story. For the most part, nobody in the wider world even knows what they’re doing. Then they publish it. It makes a splash (or not). Maybe it has a broad impact. After the publication date, on some basic level, it’s over.

But the web is so dynamic — an ever-unfolding conversation. So I was intrigued by NewAssignment.Net, which offers an opportunity to figure out how to harness that dynamism in the service of journalism.

And from part II,

there’s a lot of skittishness in the newspaper industry now because the old “objectivity” model is under assault. There are legions ideologically committed bloggers and commenters ready to slice and dice anything you put out there, especially stuff that has an edge. But there are also individuals and online communities that will take a more considered approach, take your findings and expand upon them, offer feedback. Maybe I’m being naive, but I think it’s all good — if the work is sound and you’re ready and able to defend it.

Finally, I tend to agree with Chris Rock’s recent comments: “Any episode of “South Park” is funnier than 90 percent of the comedy produced in any given year — movie, TV, just any episode of “South Park” is generally the funniest thing put out that year.”

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