Since Virgo’s Already Called Me a Murderer …

Why not provide the prosecution with some evidence, along the lines of a very good idea:

By endowing our most valued sources of news we would free them from
the strictures of an obsolete business model and offer them a permanent
place in society, like that of America’s colleges and universities.
Endowments would transform newspapers into unshakable fixtures of
American life, with greater stability and enhanced independence that
would allow them to serve the public good more effectively.

educational and literary organizations devoted to the “promotion of
social welfare,” endowed newspapers would benefit from Section
501(c)(3) of the I.R.S. code, which provides exemption from taxes on
income and allows tax deductions for people who make contributions to
eligible organizations.

One constraint on an endowed
institution is the prohibition in the same law against trying to
“influence legislation” or “participate in any campaign activity for or
against political candidates.” While endowed newspapers would need to
refrain from endorsing candidates for public office, they would still
be free to participate forcefully in the debate over issues of public
importance. The loss of endorsements seems minor in the context of the
opinion-heavy Web.

Cloaked in some seriously dishonest bullshit:

Readers turn increasingly to the Internet for information — even though
the Internet has the potential to be, in the words of the chief
executive of Google, Eric Schmidt, “a cesspool” of false information.

For example, I turned to this story on the Internet, on the New York Times’ web site. Perhaps it is part of the cesspool of false information. Just like those fucking weather reports, Epicurious recipes, and Fandom Wank.

FOR THE LOVE OF STEVE IT’S A BIG INTERNET. Some of it’s crap. Some of it’s SUPPOSED to be crap. Some of it’s not. Just like … newspapers, television, radio, ’twas ever thus.


The advertising revenues that newspaper Web sites generate are not
enough to sustain robust news coverage. Though The New York Times Web
site attracted 20 million unique users in October, Web-driven revenues
support only an estimated 20 percent of the paper’s current staff.

newspapers go digital, their business model erodes. A 2008 research
report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Company explained, “The notion
that the enormous cost of real news-gathering might be supported by the
ad load of display advertising down the side of the page, or by the
revenue share from having a Google search box in the corner of the
page, or even by a 15-second teaser from Geico prior to a news clip, is
idiotic on its face.”

Well, no. Absolutely not. I mean, we need a couple of Yalies to tell us AdSense doesn’t pay for shit? I could have told them that three years ago and I’m a girl who went to state school. You know what would have enhanced these two grafs immensely?Some numbers on exactly how much time and personnel investment newspapers have made in trying to sell web advertising. Is it equal to that selling print? If not, why give up in advance and say it’s not gonna work, unless it’s just to provide an excuse to hate on the Internet some more?

And you can endow an institution up its asshole but if you keep in place the kinds of shitty, selfish management tactics that allowed newspapers to overburden themselves with debt and ignore any and all approaching trends plus deal with “declining profits” (note this does not mean there weren’t profits nor adequate revenue) by slashing and burning and flailing around like a drunk bear on fire, not much will really change.

I absolutely applaud the thinking in the direction of non-profit institutions and endowed ones. I just don’t think you need to support that thinking with lazy blame on pixels and readers when it was management who screwed this up.


8 thoughts on “Since Virgo’s Already Called Me a Murderer …

  1. Same lazy thinking in the academic world.
    As a librarian, I see so many students who unflinchingly pull something from the internet and use it without any thought to the quality. Professors who are either in the “all bad” camp on the internet or so amazed that they can get their journals for “free” on the internet (of course, everyone forgets that the library pays a huge sum to allow them access to the subscription resources).
    And despite the sophistication of the information and tools to access it, no one bothers to learn how to use the tools.

  2. MapleStreet, this kind of lazy thinking is everywhere. It’s part of human nature. We categorize things, make generalizations, then operate on those generalizations, good or bad. Racism, sexism, religious chauvinism… In every case, the stupid is pretty damned obvious.
    What amazes me is that so many very smart people who use the internet for a gazillion things every freakin’ day don’t seem to recognize the stupid in this kind of situation. They’d freak out if they heard somebody lump my chorus newsletter in with the New York Times, when both are print publications designed to disseminate news. How is that different from what they’re doing here?
    BTW, for what it’s worth, a link to Academic Search Premier is in my syllabus and on my course website. I have a long discussion about what is a valid source, what isn’t, and a strong recommendation to vet sources with me before using them in a paper. And I tell them the librarian is their bestest friend in the whole world when it comes to writing a history paper.
    I’m also attending a workshop on Saturday that promises an introduction to new tools available from the Library of Congress online. I can’t wait!!! I heart librarians!

  3. You know, Athenae, if I actually encountered you offline on a regular basis I would probably try to bait you every day or two in the hopes of being rewarded with a quality rant like this. “It’s a big internet” is hilarious.

  4. Thanks for the kind words BuggyQ.
    The Academic Search Premiere and Elite are interesting animals with a wide range of materials. About once a year, I have to explain why we get Highlights and Ranger Rick.

  5. @dan: I do encounter her every day and you don’t need to bait to get the rant. That’s the best part.

  6. I think internet advertising gurus make too much of a fetish of targeting and the ability to make fresh ads in old stories, and then archive the ads. Did you ever grab or save an old paper from the stack because you remembered and ad for something you liked? You can’t do that online.
    I think if you swapped banner ads and sidebar ads for ads in the same space as content and then archived the ad in the with the old stories you’d have a more friendly model with a longer tail for the ads (more time for them to make impressions).

  7. “It’s a big internet” frankly brings to mind Sturgeon’s Law (or Revelation) concerning how much of any group of “stuff” is crap (90% of science fiction, as he told the story at the time). Considering he is supposed to have made this reference before 1960, it’s interesting that it continues to be accurate and completely applicable to the current whipping boy known as the internet!

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