Thursday, February 19, 2009

And you think YOUR life sucks

Let Howard Kurtz tell you about the newspaper business:
When Arthur Sulzberger Jr. refused to talk to his own reporter about the financial condition of the New York Times Co., it was the latest sign of an industry in deep trouble. . . .
Sulzberger . . . declined to comment for an article last week that described the Times Co. borrowing $25 million at 14 percent interest from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu -- described by the paper two years ago as having a "robber baron reputation"-- while trying to arrange a sale-leaseback of its Manhattan headquarters and unload its stake in the Boston Red Sox.
The Times . . . has barely cut its 1,300-person newsroom, the largest in the business. . . .
Online ad revenue remains far too modest to support the sizable reporting staffs that make newspapers worth reading and enable them to do real digging. . . .
A wave of newspaper shutdowns seems likely this year as revenue continues to plummet. Tribune Co. and the Minneapolis Star Tribune are bankrupt. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rocky Mountain News are for sale and will probably close if buyers cannot be found. Layoffs, buyouts and cutbacks are endemic. Even among the biggest papers, the Times has folded its Metro section into the paper, while The Post has killed its Sunday Source section and is dropping Book World as a separate section. . . .
Well, you can read the whole thing -- click the link, support poor Howard. Give him some pity traffic, people. Because, no kidding, journalism is on the verge of become charity work:
[T]he New Yorker's Steve Coll, a former Post managing editor, [say] an endowment should be raised to support quality journalism -- a $2 billion fund that, he says, could underwrite The Post's news operation by spending 5 percent a year. But that not only treats newspapers as a charity case, it raises ethical concerns: Who would manage the fund, who would contribute, and how could the newsroom be protected from donors' political influence?
"Ethical concerns"? Yeah -- you're producing goods for which there is no demand, or at least, less demand than would be necessary to make a profit. The fact that something can no longer be done for a profit is a sign from the market, telling you that you should stop doing whatever it is you're losing money at.

Give it up, Howard: Print journalism is going the way of the buggy whip. An industry dependent on reading cannot survive in a post-lterate culture.

Try riding a Metro train sometime and pay close attention to the younger riders, those under 30. They're not reading newspapers. They're not reading magazines. They're not reading books. They're not reading anything. Young people don't read anything any more, except maybe text messages: c u later lol

You picture the college dorm-room scene:
STUDENT 1: Dude, wazzup?
STUDENT 2: Reading a blog.
STUDENT 2: Just reading.
STUDENT 1: I mean, like, for a test?
STUDENT 2: No, just reading.
STUDENT 1: Dude, that's retarded.
So what does this mean for the future of the newspaper business? It means the newspaper business has no future, except as a streamlined, bare-bones, low-budget operation. Oh: With lots of photos of celebrities. The Three S's: Sex! Scandal! Sports! Something like the London tabloids or the New York Post.

And no more layers and layers of management. If your ambition in the newspaper business was to become assistant managing editor, you're screwed, because the managing editor of the future will have no assistant. He'll have a clerk/receptionist maybe, but none of this stuff with people paid to sit in offices and attend meetings all day.

The only people who will work at the newspaper of the future will work at the newspaper of the future. That weekly "advanced planning meeting"? Cancelled -- permanently. People in the newspaper of the future will just know their job and do it, and there won't be any time to sit around planning what you're going to do in two weeks or two months.

Every reporter will be a news reporter. The Robin Givhans of the world --- the low-productivity "style" writers -- are a luxury that the newspaper of the future cannot afford.

The newspaper of the future will have fewer specialists, more generalists. And everyone in the office will be expected to do their share of the drudgery -- helping compile the columns of briefs and "community news" and maybe covering a Friday night high school football game, too.

If you want to work at the newspaper of the future, forget about the eight-hour day and get used to the 50- or 60-hour week, working from home on weekends. Vacation? Forget that, too. Maybe you'll get a three-day weekend once in a while.

The newspaper of the future will be nothing like the bloated, boring bureaucratic behemoths over which the Pinch Sulzburgers of the world have accustomed themselves to presiding. And that is a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. The kids under thirty not reading newspapers? all taught by liberals.

    all the newspapers? ran by liberals..

    you can almost appreciate the irony in that.