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If somebody had told me a year ago I would be adopting this point of view today, I would have said ‘you are out of your pinche mind.’

Well, maybe I am. But I don’t think so.

I’m sure you all have seen the most recent brouhaha at our venerable and quickly sinking L.A. Times. This katzenjammer was provoked by an ad on the front page of the paper that was cleverly “disguised” as a news story.

Boy, oh boy. Have you no pride, L.A. Times executives? Why are you shamelessly trying to sell this sacrosant product with shameless vulgarity on its once pure front page?

Sorry, I can’t help it. Are we not understanding yet that this product is DYING, that is on LIFE SUPPORT and that it needs a lifeline more than balsero stranded outside the Keys? What is it that we need to read or hear to understand that the old rules of newspaper production no longer apply? There are no sacred cows in this business any longer, and the sooner we all come to grips with how much the industry needs to change, the better off we’ll all be.That way we can stop the whinning and the purer-than-that attitude.

Newspapers are losing money in the millions probably every day. Companies have to renegotiate their massive debts. Venerable institutions are closing. People are losing their jobs. And we’re getting our pants in a tizzy because there’s a lousy ad on the front page of the paper? Honestly, what are you people smoking?

The media revolution is so profound and so far reaching that we all need to be prepared to do things we never though of before. Along with embracing new technologies, we need to have completely new attitudes. We’re not in Kansas anymore.


I’m going to be very honest here. Well, I’m typically very honest (sometimes to my detriment) but I felt the need to clarify.

This posting is the equivalent of double-dipping.

I got an assignment for another class to  write on my blog (and this is the only one I have) and talk about three of my favorite blogs. And because this blog is about the media, i figure the blogs I should praise have to be on media as well.

Number one: Ken Doctor’s Content Bridges. I like him because he’s knowledgeable and right on. And I agree with him.

Number two: Alan Mutter’s Reflections of a Newsosaur. Usually a good predictor of bankruptcies and debt defaults.

Number three: Alexandre Gamela’s O Lago/The Lake: Grouchy, irreverent, well informed and forward looking. If I weren’t married I’d ask him out on a date.

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

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?

A couple of weeks ago, Newsosaur predicted either MediaNews or Morris Publishing would be the next ones to declare bankruptcy. Well, a few days ago, another newspaper company did annunce Chapter 11, but it was Philadelphia Newspapers, owner of the Philadelphia Enquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News. According to the New York Times, the company had not been complying with its debt agreements for about eight months, and suspended payment on debt in the Fall.

The announcement, coupled with the Fed’s chief dire prediction about the economy, doesn’t bode well for the future of debt-laden newspapers.

Wendy Carrillo, an astute woman in the masters of specialized journalism program, wisely pointed out how the nature of one of our recent cyber-discussions was focusing now not on what’s wrong with the newsmedia, but how to fix it.

Although I initially dismissed her comments, I must confess I’ve had a change of heart. Maybe it was Walter Isaacson’s piece in Time,  or maybe is a collective sign of desperation as we see the water continues to rise and now it’s up our chins. In any case, the lively debate about Isaacson’s proposal and other solutions is alive and well in the internet. Ken Doctor has a very good post about it, and so does Neusosaur. If we keep churning out ideas, something’s bound to become butter.

Judging by the animated discussion it generated in our Specialized group, I suspect many of you will already have read this week’s Time cover story by Walter Isaacson. If you haven’t, a wag of Colbert’s finger. If you have, Jon Stewart will be proud.

Immigrants tried to give the United States a taste of what the country would be like without them, and now newspapers may follow suit.

I stumbled onto this intriguing post by  TJ Sullivan,who’s pushing for newspapers to stop uploading their contents unto the web for one whole week so the public gets a taste of what the world would be like without them.

Immigrants couldn’t really pull it off, but they made a valiant effort. It will be interesting to see this idea take off.