Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, October 21, 2010 8:52 pm

The problem with newspapers

Filed under: Journalism — Lex @ 8:52 pm
Tags: ,

Athenae, another former scribe, FTW:

For what it’s worth, I think most reporters do genuinely think of what they do as public service. I know I did. I was and am proud that for a decade I never had to wonder if what I was doing made a difference in the world. I knew it for sure. It’s the place from which all my rage at the current state of newspapers comes, because people who do feel that way are being lied to and stolen from and treated like dirt, but not by bloggers. By their bosses. By their ownership. By a system that declares that their service should be directed to where a profit can be made instead of a difference, and then demands that they hold to a standard of high-mindedness the higher-ups never apply to themselves.

UPDATE: The New York Times’ David Carr has a scalp hanging from his belt tonight. Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels is gone.

On the one hand, payback’s a bitch, innit, Randy?

On the other, Michaels was only a symptom. The issue is that the newspaper business, facing change that would have challenged the brightest, bravest and most principled leaders, got leader who instead were craven, greedy and, by and large, dumber than a box of rocks. Sam Zell is still in charge at Tribune Co., so while Michaels may be gone, the business model — which was never anything more than cover for Zell and a few others to steal Tribune Co. employees’ retirement savings — remains the same.

The newspaper bidness jettisoned a lot of dead weight over the last decade, but it also jettisoned a lot of bright, talented, dedicated people who loved the business, loved their country and loved what they did. A lot of those people were my friends. And friend or stranger, good or bad, a lot of them took hard financial hits even before they finally were shown the door.

And that doesn’t even begin to get at the damage done to the people the business supposedly served, the readers and advertisers. They’ve all been screwed, too, although most are only dimly aware, if at all.

I’d thought about doing my own video someday, with this as a soundtrack — my own little commentary on what the bastards have done and the people they did it to. I don’t have the time or energy now, but this song popped up randomly on the Droid earlier this evening and, combined with the Michaels firing, I just thought it was appropriate.

Good night. And good luck.




  1. I think this can be applied to almost any job. It’s almost impossible to work these days without feeling like your taking advantage of your customer/reader to some degree. That’s capitalism, at least in its current form.

    Comment by liv — Friday, October 22, 2010 9:09 am @ 9:09 am

  2. To some extent, Liv, but this goes beyond that. Tribune Co.’s business model under Zell hadn’t a hope in hell of doing what he said. That was clear even to me, and I don’t know much about business. In hindsight, it appeaers to have been nothing more than an elaborate scheme to loot the company and the employees’ retirement savings.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, October 22, 2010 9:44 pm @ 9:44 pm

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