As Usual, It’s Only Student Media People Making Any Sense


editorial adviser, The State News, Michigan State U.: Every time
someone complains that newspapers can’t do real-time news updates and
adhere to traditional standards and ethics, I’d bet somebody at The
Associated Press laughs out loud. The AP has forever been filing in
real time and following with more thorough, thoughtful pieces via
electronic platforms, even when the platform was a telegraph wire.
Would anybody seriously denigrate The AP’s commitment to quality? And a
24/7 model of news dissemination isn’t much different from the “get me
rewrite” days of multiple and frequent daily editions, street hawkers
and extras. Really, the new model for daily print journalism is simply
an old one, using new tools. So why do too many of us act as if the
challenge is incompatible with our professional culture?

Really, you want to know why? Because losing is easy; when you lose, you get to go home, put your feet up, and rest for a while. You win, you have to keep going, you have to keep working, it goes on and on for years and it never ends. Winning sucks that way. You lose, yeah, it may hurt for a while but eventually you tell everybody you’re over it, you get something called “closure” whatever that is, and on your tombstone it says, “She was very well-rested and always caught up on her television shows.” Plus it’s familiar, I mean, we lose all the time, we lose fights every day, we know what it looks like. We know how to lose really well. Too many people in this industry, hell too many people in the world, are scared shitless to win.

Iposted this a while back becausethis caught my attention:

“If people are resigned to let the old girl die, then it isn’t worth
it,” Brown said. “Some might even get angry at the idea, because they
don’t want their hopes raised.”

Maybe it’s just that closing a newspaper is the worst thing I can imagine, but while I can understand intellectually that nobody wants to hear they’re giving up unnecessarily, Ido not get giving up unnecessarily on any level that allows me to excuse it. If there’s a way to fix something that’s broken, why not fix it? If there’s even a way to try, why not try? Even if you fail, why not try? What does it cost you? What does trying to make something work cost you? Somebody explain this to me because “it’s hard” isn’t a reason, my three-year-old goddaughter knows this, and the only possible response is, “So what?” Everything’s hard. I know very few people doing anything who think their lives are easy.

This isn’t about whether an employee buyout would have worked with the Seattle P-I; it’s not my paper nor would it have been my ass on the line so I can’t say anything about it one way or the other. It is, however, about recognizing the aversion to aspiration, the allergy to energy and enthusiasm, that is really at the heart of all the reluctance to address the problems in the media industry from 4,000-circ weeklies on up.

Somebody explain to me why having your hopes raised unnecessarily is the unpardonable sin all of sudden. You’re gonna get slammed to the ground anyway no matter what you do, it is a mortal lock that at some point in your life you will get bitchslapped by the universe, so why not at every opportunity challenge the status quo? Why not work to meet the challenges in front of you instead of getting pissy and blaming readers, bloggers, the Internet, Ted Stevens, Mr. A and CompuServe? Does that really seem like the better option? Jesus H. Spangled Vegas Elvis Christ.


6 thoughts on “As Usual, It’s Only Student Media People Making Any Sense

  1. I can remember thinking years ago (sometime around Judith Miller and the non-reportage of the antiwar protests) that it was almost like corporate media was *trying* to commit suicide. And I’m starting to think I was right. I mean, what the hell…we’ll always have Tweety and Bill-O and Wolf Blitzer, right? Who needs well-reported, sourced, informed reportage when we can have screamfests instead?

  2. But sometimes it is better to cut your losses — Would you really want to put your life savings up for a buyout and then hear “All that money is gone, we decided to use it for a last round of exit bonuses”?
    So much of the corporate side of media (see the Philadelphia story) has become a game of three-card monte that rescuing the existing properties may have become not only impossible but a waste of resources. People can only appeal to your dedication so many times before you hear another call for the same as a call to be a sucker.
    It might be better just to start fresh.

  3. in all the media chatter about “the death of the newspaper,” i haven’t heard any talk about “maybe we should get back to reporting actual news.”
    i don’t bother to get my local paper because the content is simply not worth battling with the delivery people to get the morning paper before noon.

  4. That’s a great halftime pep talk, coach!
    When you do one of these in the future you need to finish it with:
    Smacks nearest player on the ass. Now get out there andfight, Fight FIGHT!

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