‘Ghost Newspapers’

Let’s talk about this before we have a single additional hearing about Facebook, Twitter and “fake news:” 

… Digital First Media, controlled by Alden, announced it was laying off a third of the newsroom — leaving fewer than 70 reporters to cover a population of 3m people. According to the Alliance for Audited Media, the circulation of the Denver Post has more than halved from 413,676 in 2013 to about 170,000 today. DFM employees across the country — from San Francisco to New York — protested against their owners. “We wanted to let [the public] know. People were still blaming [the paper’s demise] on Craigslist, and the internet,” says Chuck Plunkett, former editorial director at the Denver Post who resigned last year after criticising the hedge fund in the newspaper. “But . . . Alden is what was killing us”.


From its headquarters in Manhattan’s Lipstick building, where Bernard Madoff used to conduct his business, Alden has seized on deteriorating newspapers across the country, ranging from the small Alaskan town of Kodiak to large metro areas such as Denver. The company owns almost every newspaper in Los Angeles and San Francisco, except the LA Times and San Francisco Chronicle.

This is on purpose. This is deliberate, and what fills the void in these communities is right-wing talk radio and cable news, most often Fox but let’s be honest it’s not like CNN and MSNBC are less stupid right now. Local news broadcasts are horrible in their own ways, and watching 10 minutes of TV news in even the bluest state will give everybody a really good idea of how Trump happened and is still happening.

I have been screaming for 20 years that they have DONE THIS ON PURPOSE IN ORDER TO UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY AND ENRICH THEMSELVES, and here we are.

And this is the thing that makes me craziest:

The battle over Gannett represents a test case for corporate America as it pits two opposing principles against one another: a company’s fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of its shareholders, against a newspaper’s public duty to operate in the interest of a broader constituency, which includes a community’s access to local media.

THOSE TWO THINGS AREN’T IN OPPOSITION. Newspapers, when printing the paper on dead trees and delivering it to people in a timely fashion, were extremely profitable. Gutting those newspapers and loading the companies up with debt and then buying shit like sports teams and TV stations was … not in the interest of shareholders OR the broader constituency.

This isn’t a fight and media don’t have to be charities in order to thrive. They just have to be smart, which is not a thing you can do when you have no budget for journalism, marketing or distribution and are run by fucking idiots who are all HERF DERF FACEBOOK VIDEO PIVOT and cut million dollar checks to incompetent filth pigs and their consultant friends.

And then prop up politicians who will cut your taxes even if they’re putting babies in cages at the border.


One thought on “‘Ghost Newspapers’

  1. I’ve been saying this for FORTY YEARS. Since Gannett came on the scene, which I saw as a bad thing for journalism. But I am older than you are. I saw all this starting with the campaign cycle that produced Reagan. How all the networks fell all over him & demonized Carter. & that was when “the news” was still “the news” & not entertainment like now. But we still had local newspapers.

    People think that America’s descent into fascism started with trump but it started much, much earlier than that. I used to think that it was 9/11 & the Patriot Act that did it but now I realize … it was Reagan. The changing of the news into entertainment, the hollowing out of the educational system, & the changing of the tax code. We’re fully fascist now. We really are.

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