To boldly go where hos have gone before

One of my favorite jokes has unfortunately come true in
journalism:

Two little old ladies are sitting down for tea and talking
about their daughters.

“My Jeanie has so many nice boyfriends,” the one began.
“She’s always out to eat at the nicest restaurants. She gets to see the best
shows and attend the nicest concerts. And the men are so generous with their
money. They buy her such nice things…”

“Yeah,” The second one chimes in. “My daughter’s a whore
too…”

The folks at the Belo Corporation are implementing “bold strategies” that involve news
people reporting to sales people.
The folks launching this thing are living
under the delusion held by the first little old lady. The rest of us see it
like the second little old lady.

To that end, I want to see Bob Mong dressed in clear heels
and a latex mini skirt. That way, he’d have a harder time looking at himself in
the mirror and trying to convince himself that he’s not a whore this morning.
It might not be his fault. Perhaps he realized Belo turned on his newsroom and
the rest of its journalistic properties by mandating this “synergy” of news and
ads. Perhaps he knows it’s an unholy alliance, the likes of which would have
the authors of the Bill of Rights spinning in their graves fast enough to
create a black hole. Perhaps he looks at this the way a garbage man looks at garbage:
It’s all trash. It’s a job. It pays the bills. I don’t know how he rationalizes
this set up, or if he even believes in what he’s pumping out of “Bold Strategy
Central.” The point is, he’s trumpeting this and that’s despicable.

You can put a happy face on this all you want. You can say
it’s been done before in more subtle and surreptitious ways at every news
agency in the country. You can say that there’s a line that’s drawn and that we
don’t cross it. That’s all fine and good, but when you keep moving the line the
way the DMN has now, you are never sure if you’ll cross the line or the line
will cross you. For decades, the rule was that the money twerps stayed out of
the way of the news geeks and vice versa. We didn’t let you tell us to print a
story on a new business in town in hopes of getting some ads and you didn’t let
us tell you that you couldn’t take an ad because we were going after them with
a story. That was a nice, thick, broad line. BELO’s line is a narrow one that
has the tensile strength of wet tissue paper. You can’t even call it a line.
You can’t even dress it up as some bastion of safety against what could lead to
clear conflicts of interest where money holds the ace in the deck. If this
abomination were to be tried and the two sides were equals in the discussion,
it would still be horrible, but at least there wouldn’t be such an egregious
power imbalance. Having the ad people serve as bosses for the news people goes
against the basic idea ofhow a
U.S. newspaper should work.

Sure, times are tough. Sure newspapers are in trouble. And
sure, if it weren’t for this damned Internet, these unethical bloggers and
these kids with their hippity hoppity music, we’d be so much better off in
life. However, selling out your paper because times are tough is the LAST thing
you should consider doing, regardless of how “bold” of a move it is.

Thus, you have two choices: Either get the hell out of the situation
and keep your high ground or put on the red dress.

Either way, admit what you’re doing. The honesty would be refreshing.

4 thoughts on “To boldly go where hos have gone before

  1. Thanks, Doc.
    We hung this article on the Ladder yesterday, right under Gambit’s piece on Lolis Eric Elie (et al) jumping from the sinking T-P, but your take is even better than the Author’s (and thus, you hang today:).
    Different Company Takeover but same Business Model at Nola.com, which we saw coming when they “layed-off” founding editor-in-chief Jon Donley back in February, and which we have come to term: “The Facebook Glory Hole Business Model”.
    Needless to say (or perhaps not) since the Corps opened a $100/day Flash Ad Contract there last fall, the Corps Coverage at the T-P/nola.com has dropped to virtually Nothing besides canned article placements by Optimal Process Partners, the Corps $5,000,000 PR Firm.
    I believe we are witnessing a truly Orwellian Threshold Moment in our National Socialist News Media. I could almost cite you the page and paragraph, but am having much to nice a morning to fuck wit’it.

    Like

  2. montag says:

    Desperation always smells of fear, and almost always prompts bad decisions that make desperate situations worse.
    Now, virtually everyone who knows even the slightest bit about this organizational change at the News will make the reasonable assumption thateverything in the paper, from hard news to the stories on Mrs. Farfdoodle’s roses, has been spun for some corporate advertiser’s benefit.
    I pity the poor damned reporters who have to do this news-cum-PR routine. They’ve always had to trim and whinge and self-edit to minimize the possibility of being blamed for losing advertisers–that’s always been a part of the business–but, now, it appears that they get a corporate PR minder in every cubicle, and having to write with that forefront in one’s mind at all times is a near-impossible task. It will cost them time, thus raising the likelihood of further newsroom cuts, and the whole operation just spirals downward into shopper-throwaway status.
    Those that have come out of the journalism schools that teach journalism and PR side-by-side as if they are the same thing will adapt. Those that haven’t will probably have to move on, despite the reporting job market getting tighter and tighter.
    But, you know that these guys know that they’re whoring themselves out when they have the chutzpah to describe their actions as “progressive.” Nothing “progressive” about selling out, unless one means “progressively more and more awful.”

    Like

  3. pansypoo says:

    it’s not a slope, it’s a slip + slide.

    Like

  4. CybScryb says:

    Couldn’t they have just called this their “1984” strategy?

    Like

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