Monday, December 08, 2008

Newspaper hari kiri...or opportunity to evolve?


Chicxulub for some is an opportunity for others. Dinosaurs die, but their cousins lived on and thrived. No, not mammals. Birds. FYI Chicxulub is the name of the asteroid that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago. Without it, we wouldn't be here, not reading, downloading Flo Rida ringtones. Here comes the crater...
The Tribune Company, saddled with the M & A debt splooged upon its august presses by Sam Zell, a "real estate mogul" (aren't "real estate moguls" usually they dullard husbands in all these "The Real Housewives of___" on Bravo?) has declared Chapter 11 protection. Zell owns the LA Times and hired a huckster named Lee Abrams as "Chief Imagination Officer" to dumb it and the Baltimore Sun down to preschooler/cage fighting fan level. H.L. Mencken's rolling in his grave. The last season of The Wire wasn't too far off, was it, Sam? Read here.
The Gray lady...the NYT...is borrowing against its building. Huh? Haven't they heard that the "too big to fail" thing is so, well, 90s? Who'll buy the building once the note's called? A big Nike Store...now that would be poetic justice. Read here.
Like the publishing industry, newspapers tried to be all things to all people...this in an age where "all people" are geting, well, dumber. Good music on the radio has gone to XM and other outlets. Of course bammas who can't afford an XM unit or an iPod still can listen to their favorite T-pain "music" on commercial radio, but that's the evolutionary exception, like the coelacanth or horseshoe crab. Most people still want news-sports-traffic-weather on "free" radio. Staying cheap and stupid, news hence becomes psycho talk radio, sports becomes ignorant fan-driven "sportstalk"...traffic and weather, that's immutable.
See the pattern? Leave stupid to the stupid people.
Newspaper (and books) can be the medium of smart people. There is a silent resevoir of smart cool people...hell even YOUNG people who want the depth, analysis, punchy investigative work. And yes there are people who want the tactile, stable experience of a paper, of a book. You can even send texts, job folks' schedules to tickle them into newspaper content. This isn't old-timer or Luddite stuff, folks. It's common sense. It's smart. It's evolution. Soar like birds.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. Newspapers are irrelevant. Who has time to read them, and I resent you calling me stupid. You are stupid for not seeing that technology can better inform people broadly.

Chicama Vineyard said...

Anonymous thank you for proving Nat Turner's point.

Here is a quote about Abrams:

"The Sentinel is the first Abrams relaunch, and it hints in broad strokes where the company will take its newspapers: bigger, brighter graphics, more maps and photos, a more organized and magazine-like approach to news and information. It’s a USA Today approach, but nothing more radical than that—at the moment. At the same time, Abrams is pushing each paper to increase reader-friendliness: ganging news in the same location every day in categories like crime, election, national security, with each one perhaps presided over by a writer/personality. To this end, he has suggestions for every page of every section, right down to concert reviews and classifieds."

None of this helped the papers with younger people and turned off older readers and people who used the papers like Orlando Sentinel and the Baltimore paper for in depth information.

WriteBlack said...

This is an opportunity to evolve, but the people in charge of newspapers aren't going to make the moves they need to make quickly enough.

I'm still waiting to see which major city daily newspaper is the first to go online only. I've been predicting that it would be the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lisa said...

There are so many good models for this that will work. But Zell and his ilk are doing their best to ignore them.

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