Monday, June 16, 2008

Newspapers have come to naught

The Tribune is in trouble.

The Courant is collapsing.

Well... that's a bit of an overstatement. But the following is probably concerning to anyone who believes in a free (and healthy) press:

An effort by Tribune Co. to "right-size" the nine newspapers in its struggling publishing division will mean significant reductions in the number of pages of news published by The Hartford Courant, and also cuts in personnel, Courant Publisher Stephen D. Carver said Thursday. (Courant, staff)

The article continued:

"You can eliminate a fair number of people while not eliminating a lot of content," said Randy Michaels, the chief operating officer.

Ha! I guess Mr. Michaels thinks his readers are "'weak-minded' sentient beings" who will agree that real journalists aren't the droids we're looking for.

Further on:

Tribune became a private company in a leveraged buyout in December that left it with $13 billion in debt. Its newspapers include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.... "There's going to be staff reductions," Carver said. "That's going to be part of this. ... The business model needs to be redone."

Well that's a surprise! A newspaper laying off more reporters. Shocking.

Seriously though, I can't say how serious a blow this is to journalism... at least in the short term. I understand that for years now, the overall pool of journalists has shrunk... yet newsworthy stories haven't decreased. So what happens?

The hard-hitting, investigative journalism gets hurt. Look no further than the NHRs recent "staff count reduction" at the Capitol. They let go their long-time Capitol reporter, Greg Hladky. And who will fill that void?

Well the reporters at the Courant are pretty good, but they can only do so much.

And don't forget, we live in Corrupticut Connecticut... a state where William Fritz, son of Deputy House Speaker Mary Fritz, can lack the required NICET qualifications for the I-84 inspection job, yet still be hired as the "chief inspector." And what exactly happened with AG Blumenthal's investigation??

(It's just another example of why the NYTimes correctly ridiculed our state for lacking the will to tackle real problems... and relying entirely on the feds in ever holding anyone accountable. And you wonder why state's attorneys have no power of subpoena??)

The last thing CT needs is fewer reporters.

Alas... there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

While traditional media is facing serious upheaval... and there's talk of the NHR going bankrupt (I think it recently delisted because it's trading price was below $1/share)... new media offers some hope for "keeping the bums honest."

And no... I'm not talking about the writing on the bathroom wall that my esteemed Council colleague "no longer" reads. Nope... while the blogosphere can (and likely must) provide real journalists with some leads... real journalists must forge onward. And the field of new media journalists and online newspapers does exist.

For example, since Chris Dodd was still in the race at the time, one of CTs online-only newspapers - the New Haven Independent - headed to New Hampshire in early January to cover him. (I know that because they simultaneously covered my favorite small government conservative Presidential candidate, Ron Paul.) And of course there's my favorite online news journal - CT News Junkie.

If online newspapers like the Independent and CT News Junkie can work (and I have no idea if they're profitable), then online news can work. And it's probably the only way that a vibrant media will continue to exist.

Tim White

p.s. I can't help but wonder if the Courant will lay off a bunch of reporters at the same time? I think it could be a great opportunity for them. If they banded together to immediately begin their own online-only newspaper, I'd certainly try to help them in their startup venture.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

what this will mean is the newspaper will still be a marketplace of ideas, some underpaid kid will stitch together copy from the Always Progressive wire service with an assortment of corporate and special interest press releases

tim white said...

an assortment of corporate and special interest press releases

Just yesterday, CNN either reported by press release or simply did some horrible reporting on Obama's recent comments when they "reported":

"The issue adds to his family values credentials"

Thanks CNN! I needed to have that explained to me. Absolutely ridiculous.

Btw, that's not a reflection on Obama... it's entirely a reflection on reporting... and the same would be true if I read similar comments about McCain... and even... Ron Paul.

The MSM is in a sad state of affairs right now.

Anonymous said...

HERE'S SOME NEWS FOR YA......

THE KIND THAT MAKES YOU SICK

DATELINE: CHESHIRE,CT JUNE 17, 2008

Connecticut is Tops In Gas Prices and Electric Rates But Not in Schools?

June 16th, 2008 categories: Central Connecticut News & Information

Here is a look at some surprising statistics about life in Connecticut and how we compare to other states. Just how do we stack up?

Gas Prices - #3, behind Alaska and California

Electricity Rates - #2, behind Hawaii and almost double the national average

Cigarette Tax - #4

State and Local Tax Burden - #8 but jumps to #1 when federal taxes are added

Connecticut does have the highest per capita income at $54,117 in 2007. (NOT IN MY PER CAPITA HOME)

The numbers on education surprised me the most. I was under the impression that Connecticut had some of the best schools in the nation…

Academic achievement - according to the America Legislative Exchange Council’s annual 2007 Report Card on American Education, Connecticut ranked #18 among the 50 states. (LET'S GO RAMS!)

Expenditures per pupil - Connecticut did however rank 4th in and 6th in average teacher salary. (THANKS TO MiLONE & FLORIO LLC)

A few of our public high schools do appear in Newsweek’s annual list of the top high schools. Out of 1300 public high schools, Farmington High School ranked #162, Weston #232, Conard High in West Hartford #420 and Staples in Westport #423. (CHS DID NOT MAKE THE LIST)

And just for fun, the towns of Cheshire, Torrington and Greenwich were ranked among the top 100 communities that support music education by the NAMM Foundation.

We are the 11th healthiest state. And according to Child Magazine, we rank #8 among the ten best states to have a baby.

(I HAVE AN UNCLE THAT LIVES IN TAXES....)

I'll be moving the family to Hawaii so we can be #1

Mike Rocci