Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lamentations on the Future of our Business

A column from the WP's Dana Milbank about the Senate hearing on the future of Newspapers:

They came as if to their own funeral.

Reporters from Hearst, USA Today, McClatchy, the Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, the Washington Times and the Boston Globe -- their employers in varying stages of decline or death -- took their places at the press table for a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday titled "The Future of Journalism."

"I hope I get laid off," one of the reporters could be heard telling a Senate staffer, "so I can get the severance."

And later:

But it was (David) Simon, once a Baltimore Sun reporter, who struck the strongest blow for newspapers. Though scolding publishers for their "martyrology" and mismanagement, he spoke of how "aggregating Web sites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth" and added: "The parasite is slowly killing the host."

Go read it.

So, I'm procrastinating on writing a story (that got held anyway) and I stumble across this column in the Boston Globe by Kevin Cullen.

As a journalist, I got pulled in by his lede (even if it is a rehash of what was drilled into us in j-school) because really, don't we all think our jobs are more noble than that of those we cover?

If you ask anybody why they got into this business and they say it was for the money, they are either certifiably insane or no longer in the business.

Few in journalism call it a business. We like to think we forfeited bigger paychecks to pursue something that is essential: speaking truth to power, comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable.

I'm here in New England watching as the Globe struggles with wage cuts and other concessions in an effort to stay afloat. I have to say as a newspaper snob myself, I always thought the Times was better than this. I had this notion that if any paper would understand the value of journalists, it would be the Times. And they would do what it took to make sure they continued supporting great journalism. But as Cullen said, the Globe relationship with the Times wasn't a marriage, it was a business deal. And, really, I think we all knew that if it came down to the Times and anything else, the Times was going to take care of home first. Shoot, I was told by Times employees not to go to a Times regional paper expecting the same treatment as I would in New York. Only The New York Times is The New York Times. Cullen continues:

It would be easier to get worked up if there were shining examples of an enlightened newspaper company figuring all this out. The Times has made lots of mistakes. I wish they didn't build the Taj Mahal on Eighth Avenue. I wish they'd close the International Herald Tribune before they gut the Globe. And, at the very least, the bigshots at the Times should have climbed aboard the Acela and come up here to explain to us, and to you, their threat to close the Globe. When an essential element of your business is demanding transparency of others, it looks pretty shoddy when you expect none from yourself.

But hating The New York Times is like hating the Yankees: It might make you feel better, but it means nothing in the standings.

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Posted by T Dot at 2:20 PM | link

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