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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another Newspaper Died Today

As I wrote two months ago, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ceased operations today.

I don't see how it'll work worth a crap. If you're in Pittsburgh and you want a morning paper to read, the P-G is still around. There's a weekly that targets a few neighborhoods.

Most digital news sites are tied into other media, which generates both the operating income and the content. Purely digital news sources don't seem to do a lot of original reporting; they may add commentary, but they mostly bite off other sources, the ones who employ the reporters who interview people, attend public meetings and research stuff. The Trib's been open about buying out senior staff and laying off others, which I take to mean that they have the staff to reformat press releases, but they're not going to be attending school board or city council meetings.

I strongly urge that people subscribe to a print newspaper. It's great if it's your local one, but if not, so long as you're subscribing to some form of general print journalism. The digital folks aren't going to be the ones who hold public officials' feet to the fire. For freedom and liberty to exist, there has to be independent watchdogs.

If not the press, then whom?

(My screed about newspapers and online content.)


Murphy's Law said...

Many of us don't subscribe to print media now specifically because they refuse to hold certain politicians (Democrats) feet to the fire almost as a rule. This past nine years, most of the major media has been in Barry Obama's back pocket, refusing to question or investigate his past, his associations with bad people, his actions as president, his vacations/golfing/whatever...it's like they've all been his personal PR flacks and I don't trust them now and don't want to hear them wind up on our new president just--and only--because he's not their personal pick. Let them all fall now, because they stopped doing their jobs as watchdogs a long time ago.

Start new papers if you like, but Washington Post, New York Times and most of the current crop are dead to me.

Comrade Misfit said...

The Trib-Review was a conservative paper. There are other ones to which you could subscribe. If you gave a shit. Do you?

(My comment was non-political.)

Old NFO said...

I like my little local paper, at $20/mo with a digital subscription to the WAPO, it gives me two avenues to get news.

Murphy's Law said...

Not trying to be political here other than my objection to the way that most corporate print media has gone from being reporters to being participants in the process. I don't care which side they're on--I just object to the BLATANT side-taking and the change in attitude that many display depending on which party or politician is on top. I want watchdogs watching both sides equally and digging into everything. I'm not seeing that any more.

3383 said...

ML, there are other papers besides those big two. My hometown paper was annoyingly rife with typos and errors (Cont'd on Page X was really page X+4) and looked really small town, but the more metropolitan Contra Costa paper was center- right and included Calvin and Hobbes. Liberal or not, the news around here do a decent job holding local government and elected officials accountable- but, being staffed by humans, there will always be some biases.
Fleet Street types and Fox News are worse.

The TV news seems to do more, but there is a noticeable drop in exposes, politician lawbreaking, and such. Probably because of reduced outlets, reporters, and dollars going to reality TV.

Comrade Misfit said...

More and more newspapers and other media are either owned by conglomerates who are more interested in currying favor, or by rich trolls. For example, it's a pretty good bet that Sheldon Adleman bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal to shut them up about him and his projects. Jeff Bezoz likely didn't buy The Washington Post out of a concern for maintaining journalistic integrity.

The days of family ownership of a newspaper, in which the operation of the newspaper is seen as a high calling, is pretty much gone. It's about buying a megaphone and controlling the message.

CenterPuke88 said...

Murph is falling victim to the echos within his own chamber. The tired doggerel about a liberal media/conservative media has been shot down so often that it's old news. Study after study shows that there is a spectrum of news out there, and that most people choose their news sources based upon THEIR prejudices, not the media outlets. It's not that one side or the other "controls" the media, it's that your personal echo chamber amplifies the disagreements into all the other media is against us. It's funny to read letters to the local papers, as one berates the paper for being too liberal at the same time one says they are too conservative.

The New York Crank said...

CenterPuke has a good point. Allow me to make another.

There have always been biased newspaper publishers who biased the properties they owned to grow their wealth or exercise their power. Famous case in point: William Randolph Hearst who helped manufacture the Spanish-American War. When an illustrator who Hearst sent to Cuba wired him to complain that there was nothing doing in Cuba worth illustrating, Hearst wired back, "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

However, honest publishers existed too, and when newspapers were fat with advertising, they could afford to be fat with reporting staffs, as many as ten of whom might contribute to a breaking news story, phoning in the tidbits they had gathered at various places or from various sources to a "rewrite man" (there were a few women on rewrite desks, but they were "rewrite men" too) who put the various dribbles of information together into a coherent story.

Today, most newspapers can't afford so many reporters, and only a few can afford reporting teams of any size, or reporters who may devoted themselves to a single story for months, or longer (see "Watergate"). Simultaneously, there is no way papers can compete for breaking news with networks and the Internet.

In my reporting days, I sometimes felt the heat coming back to the office and trying to write 750 words in 17 minutes to make the 3 p.m. edition. Today, as soon as it happens, somebody posts it.

At the same time, the number of Internet sources competing for advertising dollars has multiplied to some staggering (and perhaps uncountable) number. I got a blog, you got a blog, all God's children got a blog, and lots of those are encouraged by Google to take advertising. So ad budgets, instead of getting split among three, or five city papers, now get split among 30 gazillion blogs, give or take a million.Everybody's making money, but not enough money even to go out and buy a Coke, much less to support a news staff. Meanwhile, newspapers today, as compared to the newspapers of 20 years ago, look like skeletons of their actual selves.

And so the "news" becomes less and less trustworthy, even as the trustworthy become less and less able to support their enterprises. Life sucks, and then you're dead.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank\

Anonymous said...

We live in the boonies near Pittsburgh and our paper deliveries of the Tribune were cutoff a year ago and been living with the digital edition. Opening the browser version of the paper is rather bad and not too friendly so we download the PDF which works pretty well. (And no paper recycling). But they are going to have a problem now. On Sunday's where a lot of people download the paper, the download runs at about 60 kb/sec (this almost dialup speeds). It's not our link but the Tribune site so with the new load who knows what is going to happen.

Also it is a very conservative paper (Richard Scafe used to be the publisher, an since he died the $ has dried up to some extent so we get this now). Anyway staying away from the editorial page and the headlines it isn't too bad. Local news is there which is why we get it.


dinthebeast said...

What the New York Crank said. Also, remember when we were complaining that all of this media consolidation would end up being bad for the quality of our news? Turns out we were right.

-Doug in Oakland