Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Optimism in the Face of the Firing Squad

There's an old joke (or cartoon) about a guy who is about to be shot When offered a last cigarette, the guy refuses and says something along the lines of "they're dangerous to your health."

The same sort of attitude is found in this piece by the Washington Post Executive Editor Martin Baron about the shift from print journalism to online journalism. For nowhere in his cheery piece does he answer a simple and fundamental question: How are y'all going to make any money at it?

Newspapers are run by idiots.

1 comment:

The New York Crank said...

Sadly, Baron actually does explain – in code – how the Washington Post will make money, and the explanation is not a happy one. He writes:

"Without abandoning our principles of independent and honest coverage, newsrooms must participate in creating products that appeal to advertisers, boost readership, and deliver satisfying results for both."

Those "products" are what used to be called "advertorial" and what is now being called "Native advertising." "Native" advertising is advertising or PR flackery disguised as a news story. The disguise should be so good that the native ad looks like a story the publication might have done on its own.

And, of course, if you're writing a native story about how good Broxop"s Beans For Babies are for childhood growth and development, you don't want to run any exposés about Broxop's abusive labor practices, or the fact that they're using genetically modified beans that contain huge doses of Roundup, or that they're grown in night soil in China and canned without first being sterilized.

Immediately following the statement I quoted above, Baron uses the word "storytelling" so many times I lost count. Suffice it to say, he beats the reader over the head with the word. And that's important.

What newspapers used to do was report. Yes, theiur reporting appeared in stories. But key to the nature of those stories was reporting --digging up facts, skeptically interviewing lots of people, revealing actions, uncovering plans, whether the plans were for good or malfeasance.

"Storytelling" is the latest Madison Avenue buzzword. It's being used, and sometimes overused to the point of meaninglessness. But what it started out meaning is, "write a magazine-like or newspaper-like, or TV news-like piece instead of a traditional ad."

Alas, I am beginning to fear that Baron and those like him are no longer newspaper editors. They are collaborators.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank