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Tag Archives: newspaper crisis

We have a class called “Reporting on Decisions” where we have listened to an array of journalists — experts in their field — telling us how bad coverage in their respective fields is and has been in mainstream media almost forever. KC Cole deplored coverage of George Bush’s decisions to put politics above science, Bill Celis told us how deficient coverage was of a major education reform landmark in Texas, and Sasha Anawalt showed us how the L.A. Times missed the boat on the MOCA meltdown.
That was just the beginning. Then we then heard from our own colleages, specialized students who are becoming experts in their fields and who analyzed media coverage of an important decision. The result has been eye openning, although not altogether unexpected. Media is for the most part shallow and deficient in its reporting: it fails to place important decisions in context and fails to provide adequate explanations.

For a long time I’ve been feeling sad about the demise of newspapers as we know them, but the more I see these presentations, and the more I think about it, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing after all.

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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.

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?