06 April 2009


There's been lots of ink spilt over the impending doom of the newspaper industry--here is an example of the genre, filled with nonsense from an otherwise sensible writer. I have very hard and definite feelings about the newspaper industry and if the doomsayers are right, I say good riddance. They are anachronisms that have outlived their usefulness; they have failed to adapt to changing times and technology; the quality of writing, generally, has decayed at a far greater rate than society's as a whole (which is saying quite a bit) and they are run and staffed, again, generally, by morons.
A few years ago I signed up for a subscription to the Philadelphia Inquirer. I was to get the paper Thursday through Sunday. The story is too long, too ponderous and too far gone to repeat here, but the service was terrible and I realized that the writing had deteriorated significantly since I last let my subscription expire (for an example, read anything written by Stephen A. Smith, ever). The end of the road came with me discussing the lack of delivery with a senior supervisor of some sort. "If the delivery person continually refuses to deliver the paper and respond to pleadings from you and his direct supervisor to deliver the paper, and since his job is to, you know, deliver the paper to subscribers, why don't you replace him?"
His response was a guffaw or a snort, I can't recall exactly just now, and then he said, "I can't do that."
And there you have it. If the firm has grown so sclerotic that it can't remove or replace a front line employee that fails to perform the bare minimum of what he is paid to do over several months, then you deserve to rot.
I could go on and on about the Inquirer, but this is about more than just that paper. This is about the industry as a whole and people at large finding a better use for their own money and time. And Michael Kinsley does a fantastic job analyzing the situation and refuting the absurd notion (mentioned by Mr. Whitlock, above) that any public funds or government intrusion is warranted to "save" the industry.
Neither "democracy" nor our republic require broadsheet or tabloid papers to function properly. It requires the diligence of the sovereign, and in the US, that's us. The papers were filters, not examiners. They served "the truth" no more than any other industry in this country and were interested only in increasing their subscriber base and ad sales. Which is their right and their duty, but when you fail at that, you are to go away. They neither earned, nor should they be granted, any honorific or esteem by those who are sensibly directing their time, energy and resources elsewhere.

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