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« Women's Hair: The Long and Short of It | Main | Gold Standards »

February 07, 2008

Newspapers, R.I.P.?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* The New York Times reports on the shakey state of the newspaper business. Nifty/scarey passage:

“I’m an optimist, but it is very hard to be positive about what’s going on,” said Brian P. Tierney, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. “The next few years are transitional, and I think some papers aren’t going to make it.”

* Marc Andreessen inaugurates a New York Times Deathwatch. Funny bit: "Sometimes it's darkest right before it goes pitch black."



posted by Michael at February 7, 2008


For readers who are more than casually interested in this subject, I suggest they follow Jeff Jarvis' blog, Buzz Machine. Jarvis has been a player in the media biz for years and offers solutions along with mentioning the latest disasters.

I'm not familiar with newspapers costs by factor, but I would think that printing/distribution (and the cost of print-related labor and maintaining the buildings holding the presses, ink, paper, etc.) must be a good share of total expenses. So if survival of those god-like Journalists is the prime criterion, it makes the most sense for a failing paper to go totally on-line to survive. It might even work, if readers are willing to follow.

Otherwise, Jarvis' emphasize-the-local strategy seems to make the most survival sense.

But in fundamental crises such as newspapers are experiencing, the actual solution might be invisible for a while. Each threatened paper will try what it will, and maybe the correct solution will emerge from the general wreckage.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on February 7, 2008 6:27 PM

I admit not taking the newspaper and never have. I do read online and work in PR so am generally up on the latest headlines.

But, cynic or realist that I am, I wonder if we have too much news. Could this be not evidence of the end of print but rather a simple supply and demand issue?

Maybe we have too much information, and finally we know it.

Posted by: Matt Mullenix on February 7, 2008 6:32 PM

Newspapers? Good riddance!

The performance of the NYT in the Duke lacrosse case cleansed me of any remaining romantic notions about newspapers. The Times has been making it up for years to advance its political agenda. Until the advent of the weblog, the Times got away with it.

Let's go back to the earlier discussion about the demise of "serious" reading. One of the curious things I learned, when I became a programmer in my 40s, was that I had been seriously lazy all my life. The arts are a haven for lazy people (including me for most of my life) who don't want to work hard at acquiring concrete skills. Artists and newspaper writers want to live on their opinions.

Opinions (including my own) are a crock of shit. When I read the opinions of so many commenters about the supposed sterility and inhumanity of programming I thought: "How in the hell would you know? You're too fucking lazy to put in the work to know. The reason you like reading novels and opinion essays is precisely because there is no hard work involved."

We really don't need newspapers or newspaper reporters. Both are utterly useless. So many of the opinions we've formed in the past were based on the idiot propaganda of newspaper reporters. The problem has only deepened as the liberal arts curriculum, and particularly journalism schools, have become little more than indoctrination centers for kids who don't want to work at acquiring concrete skills. I don't attribute this, really, to leftist political passion. Outside of Asian kids, our kids just want to play. Playing at Saving the World is more fun than working. And, our society is fat enough to carry a lot of useless slugs.

I'm not a partisan of either side. There is so much concrete knowledge out there now... probably for the first time in human history. The arts (and in some way newspapers) must adjust or die.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 8, 2008 8:37 AM

And, by the way, please read Fred's latest:

He wrote a great column about the general incompetence and self-delusion rampant among right wing governmental and military types.

What he didn't say is this: The critique he applied to the right is also true for the left.

The left is just as self-serving, fundamentally corrupt and deluded as the right. Throughout my life we've been engaged in a delusional political debate. The corruption that Fred describes is just the human condition, and it applies equally across the political spectrum.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on February 8, 2008 8:45 AM

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