Columnwhoring

In which I confess my crimes:

I would admit to all of it, to every shallow, Gen-X blogger sin I
haven’t committed, and lay down my laptop forever with protestations of
remorse if it meant that tomorrow, newspapers would revive themselves
triumphant, fighting, glorious as they once had been.

Watching otherwise intelligent media critics attribute the death of
newspapers to the advent of the Internet is like watching police arrive
on the scene of a man shot to death 40 times in the back from a
distance of 20 feet and shake their heads at such a senseless suicide.
The trouble with confessing to this series of print murders is that
when I’m behind bars, newspapers will go right on dying, because I’m
not the real killer.

I began my career in newspapers 15 years ago, and back then I was
told there’d be no newspapers in a year, that this newfangled World
Wide Web would be the death of us all. It was worthless ten-a-penny
fear-mongering then and it is so today.

Since then, I’ve seen newspapers – including this one – looted by
the publishers and executives who claimed to love them. I’ve seen
skilled, healthy operations decimated by buyouts and layoffs designed
not to save a paper but to make a prettier profit margin. Newspaper corporations took on untenable amounts of debt under the
unconscionable assumption that their products would always be worth
what they’re worth now, if not more, an assumption for which you or I
would be pilloried if we made it with regard to our personal finances.

Marketing and distribution, two things few newspapers truly do well
anymore, suffered for the executives’ sins, and a public that depended
on and loved the paper was no longer told why it was important to them
nor made easily available once they recognized its value. Newsrooms
re-jiggered over and over to cover more of this and less of that,
dependent on the whims of imported consultants, resulted in feelings of
confusion and betrayal, and not just from readers.

I’ve seen just about everything happen to newspapers, in fact, but death by the Internet.

A.

4 thoughts on “Columnwhoring

  1. A column like this ought to been seen/read by a national audience. Maybe you should forward it to Bill O’Reilly. He’s been talking about this for quite a while. The political cartoon was excellent – also.

  2. That was a fantastic piece. I was lamenting today how easy it is to fuck up a newspaper (same goes for banks, or insurance companies, I guess) – it really doesn’t take that many people to agree to do something reckless and blow up a company.
    Radler and Black I’m almost more sanguine about: they’re crooks. That I get. It’s the “sensible” people who sally forth against all financial reason and sink an institution by signing a few papers that keep me awake at night.

  3. Just read this in the Southtown!! Congrats. You nailed it. Touch ’em all because you just hit it out of the park.

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