Is there hope for newspapers? Recode’s Noah Kulwin isn’t optimistic. Taking a look at a New York Magazine story concerning Jeff Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post, he notes the Post has been producing some great journalism (such as this story about Donald Trump’s charitable donations) but the writing seems to be on the wall for newspapers who aren’t fortunate enough to have a billionaire bankrolling their money-losing journalistic ventures.
As the print subscriptions that are the Post’s and other papers’ mainstay dwindle, the outlook seems pretty grim. The Post is hoping to find alternative sources of revenue, such as licensing and selling its content management system, launching a digital ad agency, and publishing content for mobile audiences—but even with Bezos’s backing, the paper is still pretty far from solid financial ground.
Of course, as Kulwin points out, the Post has a pretty substantial safety net:
The upside is that the Post is owned by one of the wealthiest people on the planet in Jeff Bezos, who’s worth nearly $60 billion and believes that journalism is in the public interest. Even though Bezos has already gutted pensions and reportedly indicated that further budget cuts aren’t out of the question, the Post is obviously not going away anytime soon.
But most other papers don’t have that kind of safety net—and if the Post is having a hard time even with Bezos’s backing, what future remains for the rest of the industry? In the current landscape of rampant ad-blocking and minimal web revenue, finding a good revenue stream will remain tricky.
(Photo by Esther Vargas, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.)
In 1992, I took note of the great enthusiasm the major newspapers in the U.S. had for the candidacy of Bill Clinton and told myself, “To inspire that level of enthusiasm in reporters and editor, this Clinton must be either a scoundrel or incompetent.”
Clinton had not finished the first sentence I’d ever heard him speak when I knew which he was. He had (and still has) the typical, syrupy-sweet, “Ah feel yore pain” voice of a con man. In that moment I knew what all subsequent events have amply demonstrated, that he was a lying, thieving, scoundrel and (as soon became obvious) sexual predator.
The same media that had fallen for him eventually admitted that he was a liar, but claimed he was a very good one to have fooled them. Not so. Bill Clinton is the worst of all liars. He can say “two plus two equals four” and savvy people know he’s a liar. It’s all in that faux-concern tone in his voice.
I sometimes ask myself which is the most likely explanation for this seeming journalistic incompetence that renders most of the major newspapers and networks incapable of discovering much less exposing soundrels and incompetents.
1. Stupidity. Yeah, journalists aren’t too bright, that’s certainly true. When I majored in engineering, some classmates who couldn’t managed the demands of that major, would shift into business. They would have rather died that changed to journalism. But if stupidity were the only factory, journalists still should be right about half the time. Their record is far worse than that. Indeed, as I discovered long ago, their picks are almost invariably bad.
2. Bigotry. Note I said bigotry not bias. Again that fits. Certain people and groups never get a fair chance, others get a free ride. To see that, all you need do is compare the furor over Supreme Court Justice nominee’s alleged (by one person) remarks that amounted to telling a couple of off-color jokes, with all the many charges level against Bill Clinton by women, charges that include rape and groping and are typically by women who’re heavily involved in the Democratic party. So yeah, the news media is certainly bigoted, so bigoted a Klansman looks wonderful in comparison.
3. Evil. More recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that, while the first two are true, they don’t fully explain just how bad the news media is. Both NBC and the BBC have been credibly accused of covering up sexual predators in their midst. Why, given that behavior in their ranks, would they care if Bill Clinton does the same. He is simply being like them. And keep in mind that the subprime fiasco which cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars primarily enriched financiers in Manhattan, people who at the very least were next-door neighbors to those who decide what’s news in our country. Is it any surprise that the subprime fiasco never lead to any guilty party being punished? They got rich making bad loans and they’re still rich. The mainstream news media in this country seems quite happy to let those (rich) sleeping dogs lie.
All three can, of course, be reconciled. If you’re evil, then you’ll display hatred and bigotry toward those who expose evil. That explains the bigotry. And if you’re committed to evil, then you develop blinders that look like stupidity. A liar yourself, you’re not particularly concerned about lying in others and develop no particular skill in spotting or exposing it.
Chris is perfectly free to regard the decline and eventually demise of daily newspapers not shored up by billionaires as a tragedy. I disagree. I regard it as a great benefit for our nation that a more diffuse news media may, in a decade or two, made it impossible for a lying, sexual predator like Bill Clinton to become president.
Maybe that’s a forlorn hope, but it’s certainly true that the current news media in this country believes that anyone with a (D) after his or her name has a license to commit almost any crime, including rape/groping (Bill) and putting the foreign policy of the U.S. up for sale as Secretary of State (Hillary). Note too that our press made no significant mention of the most significant fact about Obama as a candidate, that his first job as a Chicago lawyer was defending slum lords with rat and roach-infested apartments. He remains, to this day, friendly with them. Understand that he is that kind of person, and you understand everything you need to know about him, including a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran.
Our problem is obvious. There are a few hundred people in this country who determine that telling an off-color joke (Justice Thomas) is a horrid evil, while a long history of sexual predation (Bill Clinton) doesn’t matter. It is their vile and evil power that needs to be broken. How ironic that it is being done by a lack of ad revenue.
Those are the facts, obviously to any objective observer. Our existing press is incredibly bad for our country. It’s demise cannot be anything but beneficial for our people. I welcome their demise. Every time I hear of a layoff at the NYT or LA Times, I want to do cartwheels down the streets in front of my house. Recently when I watched NBC evening news at a relatives and realized that, judging by the ads, few under seventy were watching, I was delighted. In ten years, maybe five, NBC News will roll belly up and sink beneath the waves. That’s good.
And yes, I know weakening the influence of all the evil people isn’t in itself good. But it is a start in ridding our government and its policies of evil by reducing the power of their most powerful and rabid protectors. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll even reach the point where sexual predators (Bill) and their nasty spouse-protectors (Hillary) won’t be elected to high office. Yes, that is a stretch, but it’s not impossible.