Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: March 2009

OK, I know I vacillate between anger and depression when it comes to the general state of news media, but that doesn’t mean I have any tolerance for my friends who still complain about it. Sorry folks, I have no patience for the reporter who wants to go cover Obama when he rolls into L.A., only to be told by editors that’s what wire services are for. And the guy who wants to do an in-depth story about the history of Taco Trucks in California but gets told by editors to go cover a robbery instead? Forget about it, buddy. These are tough times that have no patience for the faint of heart. (Boy, I sure hope my friends don’t visit my blog).

But I can leave my grumpiness behind when I see a good piece of news, like the one I discovered today just as I was resigning myself to only write about grumpiness.

Benjamin Cardin, an elightened senator from Maryland, introduced on Tuesday the “Newspaper Revitalization Act,” a bill that would allow newspapers to restructure as non-profits and potentially give them a second chance at life. The bill still needs to get co-sponsors and naturally, any takers. But hey, the fact that the plight of newspapers has reached such august heights says something about who’s paying attention. That makes me feel good, at least for this week.


Kübler Ross, part II (I LOVE JON STEWART)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart takes on CNBC“, posted with vodpod

Who says you can’t be grieving and hopeful at the same time?

OK, it took me TWO FULL WEEKS to regain some hope about the state of the media. After all, McClatchy announced it’s going to cut 15 percent of the workforce, it’s looking more likely than ever that the Seattle P-I is going to shutter its print edition, and my employer is listed as a very likely candidate to miss debt payments in the near future.

And not a moment too soon, Jon Stewart blasted Rick Santelly, Jim Cramer and the entire team of CNBC for continuing to tout themselves as “trusted” sources of financial information when they have consistently failed to grill CEO’s and ask tough questions. It is the kind of journalism (advocacy for taxpayers and 401-K owners, anyone?) that we most need, and most everyone is afraid to practice. Might as well go down fighting.

Of course, ratings for the Daily Show went through the roof and everyone is blogging about him. Will Bunch from The Huffington Post wrote a great piece about it. Among its gems: “The American public is mad as hell right now, so why isn’t the mainstream media? Balanced reporting is important, but a balanced, modulated tone of voice? Not now, not when millions are hurting from lost jobs and under-water mortgages, and many millions more are living in fear of the same fate.” And another one: “The First Amendment doesn’t say anything about not being funny, or not being passionate.”

Also in the good, uplifting news department:workers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachussets will try to save the janitors and foodservers, many of them immigrants, from being laid off. It’s not necessarily a media story, but it’s proof that the financial storm we’re witnessing is going to unearth some treasures. Maybe a chestful of hope.

With all due respect to my esteemed colleague Sally Lehrman, who this week wrote about the danger of losing ethnic media, I am convinced this media sector is better poised to weather the financial storm better than any others.

The reasons are numerous, but I’m going to cite three: ethnic media, particularly Spanish-language has not lost readers to the Internet like general market publications. The general decline we’re seeing (which is not as dramatic as the one shaking general market) has more to do with the sorry state of the economy than with a broken business model.

Second,those publications or products that have gone bust, have generally been products that wanted to capture a “market” and not a “community.” Hoy was established in New York by the now troubled Tribune Company and later purchased by ImpreMedia, which is keeping it alive on-line.

Third, and most important, ethnic media has been around for a very long time, and as long as general market media continues to ignore these populations, the need for these products will always be there. Just like it was mentioned in the Lehrman article, mainstream media does not employ minority groups even to to the point of representation ,and with the shake up many minority journalists have lost their jobs. Even more, the financial crisis is bound to have more reprecussions for low income, minority communities, and ethnic media outlets will be crucial to tell this narrative.

Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross developed the well known and unparalleled model to cope with grief and tragedy, the eponymous Kübler-Ross model. She figured that people deal with great losses in five stages: denial, bargaining, depression, anger and acceptance. Not everyone goes through the same stages, and not everyone goes through them in the same order.

We’ve gone through particularly bad two weeks of news in the industry, and even though I’m well past denial and very much into acceptance modes, I still fluctuate between depression and anger. The thought of the San Francisco Chronicle angers me. The demise of the Rocky Mountain News depresses me. I want to be like Dave Westphal and look at the silver lining, but when I hear there are two start ups vis-a-vis 100 projected layoffs in Los Angeles alone, the math is just not adding up.

Here’s the kicker. We all know the Internet is where it’s at, and I just learned a few days ago that a top honcho in the company where I’m supposed to have a job at the end of the year does not even use e-mail. If the guys at the top still don’t get it, what’s the use of all this?