News & Politics

The Media, Like the Blacksmiths Before Them, Complain About No One Buying Their Product

(Create Commons Pixabay.com)

There’s a childlike quality to many in the media who bemoan the coming demise of “news” as we currently get it. Their world is collapsing around them and they insist they should be saved because…well, they’re special. Journalism isn’t a job, or a craft, or even an art form. Journalism, you see, is a “calling” — sort of like the way that Catholic priests are “called” to the priesthood but without the supreme being getting involved.

The “news” is their god and people have discovered you don’t need a masters in journalism from Columbia to find out what’s happening in the world.

One can imagine 120 years ago that blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carriage manufacturers, and saddle makers were making many of the same arguments made by reporters who find no one wants to pay them $75K a year to report what any boob with a phone can find if they google it.

CNN Business:

“With these smaller newspapers drying up across the country, it is creating a collapse of local newspapers and local news and the kind of information (they provide) around the country,” said Brown, who is known for her reporting on accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. “Because there isn’t the number of voices and the number of local newspapers, (that) has contributed to the divisions that we’re experiencing around the country.”

Newspapers are necessary for national unity? That’s a new one. Maybe they’ll try to tell us it’s a matter of national security that teeny, tiny local papers that reprint AP wire stories and tell us all about Auntie Midge and her fruitcake recipe are needed to protect the country.

It’s the latest in a years-long decline of local news. Late last year, US newspaper giants Gatehouse and Gannett merged, leading to job cuts and consolidating hundreds of the country’s daily newspapers under one company. Around the same time, hedge fund Alden Global Capital became the biggest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun and the Hartford Courant, among others. Staffers protested the decision and Tribune Publishing has already offered a round of buyouts to employees this year.

Reporters think only they have a right to make money in the media business. Their effete, arrogant, attitude that the people who pay for all that paper and printer’s ink should sit down, shut up, and take their losses — and thank them for the service they are doing to democracy and the nation — shows a disconnect from reality that is truly beyond belief.

Here’s a reality check, guys.

Media industry analyst Ken Doctor said the trend of hedge fund ownership could be troubling for the long term success of local news.

“Clearly, reader habits have changed, but this isn’t news, it’s 2020. This has been a transition that has not worked, these companies are dependent on print,” Doctor said Sunday. Still, he said there is money to be made from owning newspapers — at least in the short term.

“The people who are making it are the people who are willing to make those tough decisions and cut into the product knowing that they’re not building a product for tomorrow, but taking the money in the short term,” Doctor said.

If a hedge fund has trouble making any money off of local news, you know the vultures are circling.

There will always be a Carlos Slim or a Jeff Bezos to prop up iconic papers like The Times and The Post. But for others — even billion dollar conglomerates like the Trubune Company, the writing is on the wall.

Meanwhile, a word to the reporters, editors, stringers, and other media types.

Learn to code.