Do Your Own Job

And quit your bitching, you damn kids:

The conventional wisdom regarding print journalism is that it is a dying breed, and that online media is the way of the future. Hence, newspapers across the country are axing employees like Paul Bunyan in a tree-chopping competition.

The excuses for such downsizing are legion: competition with blogs, cable news, and online classified-ad sites, readers’ short attention spans, rising production costs, overstaffing, understaffing, liberal bias, corporate ownership, the decline of the American educational system, and personal digital assistants. You might as well blame it on the rain while you’re at it, because one thing is certain: Traditional “dead tree” editions are a thing of the past.

Or are they?

The supposed decline of print media is not in fact an industry-wide phenomenon. Community newspapers have generally been profitable ventures for some time, and over the past decade have attracted the attention of media giants looking for publications that can positively contribute to the parent corporation’s bottom line.

There are plenty of examples in the Puget Sound region of community remoras being attached to media leviathans. In 1996, the Washington Post–owned Everett Herald purchased Enterprise Newspapers, a chain of four community papers with circulations in Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mill Creek, and Shoreline. Similarly, The Seattle Times purchased The Issaquah Press in 1995, and since then has launched papers serving Newcastle, Sammamish, and Snoqualmie. Meanwhile, the McClatchy-owned Tacoma News Tribune operates a pair of weeklies, The Peninsula Gateway in Gig Harbor and The Puyallup Herald.

Yet the newspaper entity in Washington with the highest aggregate circulation is not the Blethen-operated Seattle Times and its affiliates, nor is it McClatchy, with its News Tribune, Tri-City Herald, and Olympian. Rather, it’s Sound Publishing, a chain of some three-score community newspapers and shoppers that is a subsidiary of the British Columbia–based Black Press.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the company relies almost entirely on dead-tree editions to get its message across.

I swear, every time I read about all the woe is us, newspapers are DOOMED, we must hire anInnovation Editor (no, really) to tell us how to set up anew media farm to explain how to write for Teh Interwebs and reach out to the Kids Today and nobody’s reading anymore and OMG, whatever shall we do, I just want to pull a Bill O’Reilly and scream “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!”

Fuck it. We’ll do it live. Just do your job. Do your job and do it well. Do what people need you to do. If you weren’t fucking up, you wouldn’t have six million media critics telling you you suck, and bloggers trying to fill in the holes in your reporting, and people pissed off at you. If you were getting the paper on the porch at 6 a.m. like you’re supposed to, and making vacation stops when people ask for them, and distributing them to places people actually go, and marketing the shit out of the paper, and not paying your executives like they’re Croesus while starving the people who actually do the work, if you were doing all that, you’d be fine, and to continue to pull your pud and talk about the Internet is just embarrassing.

Not that anyone listens to me. You see, you can deplore the influence of blogs without actually reading any, as we’ve learned so often in the past half-decade, so it’s sucker’s odds you’ll ever see any of this, but for the sake of my sanity, stop being such fucking whiny little bitches all the time and just do the work.



3 thoughts on “Do Your Own Job

  1. Apropos your adjacent post on Newsweek, you also should mention how far to the right of the general public the media are today. Was it the Los Angeles Times that considers 2/3 of all Americans to be in the extreme left based on their views on Iraq, stem cells, abortion and so on?
    We live in a small town in a small county, and we like our local print newspaper (The Peninsula Daily News). It isn’t great, and it has certain biases, but it does cover local issues. It would be great to have a newspaper like this for state, national and international coverage, but such things don’t seem to exist anymore.

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