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Ed Driscoll

“It’s Nasty Stuff”

March 9th, 2009 - 10:39 am

“New York Times Sells, Leases Back Part Of Building.” Well, that’s one way to keep the lights on a little longer. Meanwhile, the Lead and Gold blog spots what for the newspaper industry is “A badge of honor, but maybe not the best business model”:

I found this at a site that has a lot of smart things to say about journalism:

But there are probably just as many–or more–people rooting heartily for papers and journalism to fail, for political reasons.

Twenty-five years ago, a smart professor and editor of mine named Charles “Puff” Puffenbarger told me something about news audiences that I’ll always remember: “They hate us out there.” It appears that’s true more now than ever.

The mind boggles. How can a for-profit business be so flippant about alienating their customers.

David Gerlenter relates a more telling and more recent anecdote in Drawing Life:

Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ’96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, i’m the Media. Screw You.’ The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd– an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.”

The media arrogance might remain, but the audience’s powerlessness is a thing of the past. Some talk back; even more stop buying the product.

For decades journalists delighted in bringing bad news to the doorstep of their readers. Now the bad news is in the newsroom and the game is not fun anymore. Now it sucks to be a Decider.

The first quote panned by Lead and Gold comes from a blogger who calls himself “Recovering Journalist”, who writes:

Over on the other side of the political aisle, there’s a whole cadre of people passionately rooting for the death of media outlets they see as liberally biased. And the kinds of things they say make Polis look positively temperate.

Want a taste? Jump into any of the discussions here, at FreeRepublic.com, one of the leading right-wing Web sites. A regular feature called “Dinosaur Media Death Watch” chronicles every development in the decline of the journalism business in detail that surpasses even Romenesko–except that these dispatches are accompanied by unalloyed glee. The standard comment about newspaper layoffs or closings is something along the lines of “good riddance.” You’ll see similar sentiments expressed at other conservative sites. It’s nasty stuff.

Of course, no true journalist would want to see another journalist or pundit put out of business. Such an attitude is unthinkable amongst self-styled media elites.

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