Friday, December 11, 2009
Journalism isn't Dead, but Newspapers are
By Alan Caruba
As frequent readers of my commentaries know, I began my working life as a journalist. This, of course, ruined me for honest work!
As a result, I migrated into public relations, a craft or trade that likes to think of itself as a profession, but other than medicine, why would one want to be thought of in the same way as lawyers?
Nowadays, every endeavor with its own trade association calls itself a profession. All one needs is a Code of Ethics that its members can ignore and, voila, you’re a professional.
Journalists think of themselves as professionals and they too have a Code of Ethics as put forth by the Society of Professional Journalists. Let it be noted that I have been and still am a SPJ member for more than twenty-five years and, for much of that time, I also subscribed to Editor & Publisher, a publication that has been around for 125 years.
E&P died on Thursday. It was shut down by its parent company, Nielsen, along with The Hollywood Reporter.
If anything signals a near-death experience for print journalism; that is to say, the process by which the combined talent and efforts of reporters, columnists, photographers, and editors produced a daily portrait of a city, a state, the nation and the world, the loss of Editor & Publisher pretty much says “the times they are a-changing.”
I am willing to bet that weeklies will survive because people want news specific to the town in which they live.
Journalism as the collection and reporting of news is not dead. One can go to any number of Internet sites that provide or aggregate news and opinions for proof of that. In fact, it may be increasing.
You will search long and hard for conservative opinion in the mainstream press. Other than Charles Krauthammer and George Will, it is scant when measured against their liberal counterparts, but they and many other conservative commentators thrive on the Internet.
Broadcast journalism, even in tough times, is surviving, but at the local level it is driven by the motto, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This is why the 6 o’clock news is mostly shootings, fires, and comparable (and dependable) mayhem.
Most of the rest resembles at its best the Fox News Channel, followed far behind by others so partisan it is ugly. I predict that the decline of print journalism will bode well for Bloomberg News, and anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, such as The Wall Street Journal and Fox! The government funded Public Broadcast Networks will survive because they are not dependent on advertising.
At this point, if the Associated Press closed its doors, I would not miss its endless churning of distorted news that looks like it was written in a carnival fun house.
So far this year, 105 newspapers have shut their doors. The number of jobs associated with print journalism is estimated between 10,000 and 40,000, with the top number being most likely. And don’t forget all those folks who ran the presses and the drivers who delivered the papers.
In the first quarter of this year, ad sales declined by 30%. Most classified advertising long ago had migrated to Craig’s List, Monster.com, and dozens of comparable Internet outlets.
Consider some of the newspapers that are no more; Tucson Citizen, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Kentucky Post, Cincinnati Post, Albuquerque Tribune, and even the San Juan Star, to name but a few.
Get ready to bury a whole bunch more including the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the New York Daily News; also on death watch, Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report.
I fully understand the economics behind the closings that have occurred and that will continue. I think, however, that other factors have been a work for a very long time.
It is their arrogance.
It is their capitulation to leftist political ideology.
It is their abandonment of accuracy and balance.
The pages of too many newspapers and news magazines scream BIAS.
This was evident with Editor & Publisher that, at least a decade ago or longer, became little more than a leftist rag. Its editors and commentators were ideologues so far out of touch with the events of the real world that the magazine’s demise mirrors the general decline of print journalism.
For myself, I am waiting for The New York Times to tank and take with it some of the worst practitioners of journalism to ever gather in a single city room. Columnists, Paul Krugman and Thomas L. Friedman, are award-winning, clueless ignoramuses. The Times in recent years has specialized in revealing government secrets vital to the greatest enemy of freedom, the fascists that want to impose Islam on the world.
I don’t care how many Pulitzer Prizes the Times has garnered. The nation is filled with newspapers whose display cases are filled with awards, but which are dead or dying because they forgot to print the TRUTH.