Everything Old Is New

Cutting-edge media outlets could borrow an idea or two about news coverage from the past.

Word arrives of a stunning development in the world of television: "NBC NEWS ANNOUNCES OPENING OF MIDDLE EAST BUREAU," says the release. It seems that the network's impressive Iraq reporter, Richard Engel, will run a new bureau in Lebanon. "Since so many of the stories which will dominate our lifetime have their roots in the Middle East, we believed it essential to extend the reach of America's leading news organization," said NBC News President Steve Capus.

Extend the reach—now that's a nice idea. It appears to be dawning on the geniuses of TV journalism that the way they used to do news at the nets—send scads of reporters all over the world, spend big dough to maintain bureaus where news is actually breaking—was kinda smart. It gets you to thinking about other stuff that cutting-edge media outlets could borrow from the past:

1. New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times to Dramatically Expand Newsroom Staffs.

NEW YORK CITY—Three of America's largest metropolitan dailies today announced they will hire dozens of new reporters and editors, reversing several years of personnel cutbacks and buyouts. "News doesn't just drop out of thin air," New York Times spokeswoman Jane Wisdom explained. "It comes from living, breathing people. We're going to find some of those people and hire them. We've learned in the last few years that when you eliminate staff, you wind up with less news. It's almost a mathematical certainty. So we and our colleagues in Washington and L.A. have launched this joint effort to 'grow' our news staffs. It's a creative approach to journalism that we hope other news organizations will emulate."

2. Fox to Choose Female Anchors for Brains, Not Looks.

NEW YORK CITY—Fox News, America's first choice in news, will begin hiring female anchors based entirely on intelligence. Beginning this week, the network will be on the lookout for smart, news-savvy women with extensive journalistic experience. "Given the intense competition for cable audiences, we wanted something special to draw viewers, something they can't get elsewhere," Fox News Vice President David Pixelbot said. "Since many Fox viewers have better-than-average IQs, it hit us that 'showing a little brain' could be just as compelling as 'showing a little leg.' Also, we studied headshots of Edward R. Murrow and concluded that he was not exactly eye candy." Henceforth, female anchors will be selected through a "looks-blind" process in which candidates will be issued identical brown paper bags to wear over their heads during interviews and test videos.

3. Miami Herald to Publish Interesting Editorials.

MIAMI—Florida's most influential newspaper, The Miami Herald, said it will begin running editorials that are well written and engaging. Effective immediately, at least two of the editorials published each week will be argued in a fresh, stimulating way that keeps the reader awake and thinking. In addition, one editorial per month will be fascinating. "It's something we've been eager to try," Herald spokeswoman Gabriela Blanco said, "and this just felt like the right moment. Why not be interesting every now and then? We see no downside and many potential upsides for our readers." An Interesting Topics task force has been formed within the paper, and it has already identified more than a dozen promising ideas. The Herald hopes other papers around the country will follow its example, and it is willing to share techniques. "If all goes well, 'interesting' could become a trend," Blanco said.

4. Blog to Offer Facts, Polished Writing.

WASHINGTON—ExoticArnold.com, one of the nation's top political blogs, will begin offering original factual reports gathered by the blogger himself, Arnold S. Bixby, in regular forays from his apartment in the Dupont Circle section of Washington. In addition, all posts on ExoticArnold.com will now be edited for cogency, style, and rhetorical rigor by an editor with more than two years' professional experience. Bixby's long-running debate with himself over his own mixed feelings about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be replaced by interviews with people who work with the senator or follow her work closely. The blog also plans to submit an official request for an interview with Clinton herself, as soon as the phone number for such requests is located.