Monday, May 09, 2005

Newspapers Panic--Where Did the Readers Go?

Yankees slump as badly as newsmedia

In between braggido over how great and mighty a power they are and shrieks of rage towards bloggers and upstarts and turning the back on foreign news services, the American newspapers continue to lose readers, lose status and lose thier collective minds. Why is this happening, they wail. Like crew members on a sinking Titanic, they bail water with collanders. Asking bloggers for advice and help doesn't occur to them. This is why they arrange "Blogger Ethics" symposiums and "Whither Bloggers?" meetings while carefully avoiding any contact with real life bloggers who specialize in tracking media matters and explaining how the process works.

They call on fellow media whorette, Wonkette. She is a professional who pretends to be a blogger but really is part of a publishing organization that uses "blogs" as a cover for what they really are, a classic media organization as beholden to corporate manipulation as Martha Stewart's Living or the New York Times. The Times slaver over this organization thinking "this is how we can become millionaires" forgetting that 99% of the stuff peddled by Gawker Magazine is pure tabloid/sex trash talk.

Media whores, meet Blog whores. You're welcome.

Kinsley wonders at the Washington Post:

In this great country, there are newspaper editorial pages of every political stripe, from nearly insane far-left rantings to the Wall Street Journal. But when the United States faces a danger to its most important institutions and values, Americans can count on the newspaper industry to put aside petty differences and speak with one voice.

Great way to start off, Kinney boy. Insult me directly. Since no American mainstream paper is even faintly left much less insanely left, you can find us all alive and well and kicking really hard...on line. So far, no one can censor us or intimidate us and in my case, threaten me financially. So I can say whatever pops into my lefty brain.

Now is such a moment. The enemy is invisible, indeed inexplicable, but could be fatal to all we hold dear. In short: Some evil force is causing people to stop reading newspapers! Newspaper circulation figures, which had been drifting decorously downward for years, have started to plummet. At the current rate of decline, the last newspaper subscriber will hang up on a renewal phone call that interrupts dinner on Oct. 17, 2016. And then it will be over.

I will use my cluephone here: anyone who interrupts my dinner to sell me a newspaper is lucky I don't get in the car, drive over to the publisher's home and throw rocks into his livingroom window. And toilet paper his ornamental hedges. If I ever bothered my readers like this, I expect no less from them too.

Kinsley is making fun of his own business, he being the new right wing editor of the once great Los Angeles Times. I remember reading that paper when it was good. Today, I subscribe to no newspaper. I get about 75%+ of my news from online overseas sources now since they tend to have no reason to lie to me directly. I do collect newspapers from my community recycling center. I use it to start fires in the winter and to start up my Victorian wood stove. It is great kindling although in a pinch one can simply go off into the woods and collect tons of twigs. It is just that they don't stack very neatly unlike the basket filled with newspapers.

Although Kinsley, in mock despair hiding his very real fear, is trying to laugh at his own demise, the Wall Street Journal decides it is time to gussy up the old broad and wheel her out after a face lift and some lip gloss.

Publisher Dow Jones said the first tabloid - or compact - editions, would be produced on 17 October. The US company said the move to smaller-scale newspapers reflected a growing trend across Europe, and would also help reduce production costs.

The compact size would also be more convenient and easier to read, it said.

Perhaps they will smarten up. Just print a small card. "Interest rates (up/down)...barrel oil (up/down)...stockmarket (up/down) and then the kisser: Buy/sell. This is a madcap idea. Who needs information anyway? Especially since it is carefully filtered to eliminate the most important details? Since when has the WSJ accurately predicted things that surprised us?

The true value of any information dispensing machine is, "did it warn me in time?" and "is this information important" and "will it help me live better?" The role of a pundit certainly lies in this field of action. A pundit that lies or calls bad shots or is shown to be incorrect about basic facts should be shunned. On line, bloggers who stumble fall rapidly. There is no machinery to keep them afloat no matter how off base they are or how ineptly they call the shots or anything. At this point, the pundit line up looks like this year's Yankee line up: a bunch of over the hill, over paid losers.

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