Friday, July 4, 2008

Signs of the Times

By Alan Caruba

The headlines and stories of failing newspapers are beginning to gain momentum. In my home state of New Jersey, the venerable northern daily, The Record, is abandoning its office in Hackensack and the reporters it retains will simply function “in the field” via laptops and cell phones. In Tampa the Tribune will cut its workforce and the same is happening to the Los Angeles Times.

When big city or regional newspapers begin to fail for lack of advertising, it tells you that new technology is chasing out old technology. Fewer horses and buggies and more of those newfangled automobiles. Fewer steam wheelers on the Mississippi because of the railroads crossing the nation. It’s called progress by most and ruin for those finding their way of life passing from the scene.

I don’t know how many people increasingly turn to the Internet for their news, but I will tip my hat to Matt Drudge for literally driving the daily news stream through his unique ability to spot stories in sources the mainstream press probably never read or knew existed. What’s the news today? Click on Drudge. His interest in the agonies of today’s daily newspapers has much to tell the rest of us onlookers.

As someone who came of age in weekly and daily newsrooms, I think the passing of the newsroom where reporters had their desks and the place crackled with an undeniable excitement as editors interacted with them is a loss.

There was something special about being one of the men or women who went to the town hall meetings, who covered the fires, and wrote features about local folks who had earned recognition. And it was important to be able to convey the event or personality one-on-one, face to face with an editor.

But time and the Times is moving on and, for lack of advertising, getting thinner.

There is another factor contributing to the slow death of newspapers as something more than a place to check the local obituaries and movie listings, and it has everything to do with the primary content, the news.

The editorial and Op Ed (opposite-the-editorial or opinion) pages of most of the nation’s dailies are relentlessly liberal in their view of the nation and its issues. This is in contradiction of the fact that 62% percent of Americans define themselves these days as “somewhat conservative” or “very conservative” according to a recent bipartisan Battleground Poll in May. Fully 28% said they were “very conservative.”

Only 8% said they were “very liberal.” In the view of liberals, conservatives are deluded by their religious faith, are mostly bigoted, prefer small or less government, and are openly patriotic, et cetera.

Almost by definition, newsrooms are filled with liberals and it is reflected in the editorial cartoons, the daily editorials, and what appears on the Op Ed page. It a small, liberal world and it is arrogant to the point of thinking the readers are too dumb to figure out things for themselves.

The problem for the editors (and publishers) of newspapers, however, is that the majority of the people who might want to read their newspaper are offended by what they are offered as “news” because they know it is inaccurate and/or slanted. People instinctively resent it. And they can now get their news elsewhere.

1 comment:

Longstreet said...

This is dead on, Alan. You have written te piece I have been wanting to write.

The arrogance of the liberal press has caught up with them and now they are paying the price.

Keep up the good work, sir!