Friday, December 11, 2009

Journalism isn't Dead, but Newspapers are

By Alan Caruba

As frequent readers of my commentaries know, I began my working life as a journalist. This, of course, ruined me for honest work!

As a result, I migrated into public relations, a craft or trade that likes to think of itself as a profession, but other than medicine, why would one want to be thought of in the same way as lawyers?

Nowadays, every endeavor with its own trade association calls itself a profession. All one needs is a Code of Ethics that its members can ignore and, voila, you’re a professional.

Journalists think of themselves as professionals and they too have a Code of Ethics as put forth by the Society of Professional Journalists. Let it be noted that I have been and still am a SPJ member for more than twenty-five years and, for much of that time, I also subscribed to Editor & Publisher, a publication that has been around for 125 years.

E&P died on Thursday. It was shut down by its parent company, Nielsen, along with The Hollywood Reporter.

If anything signals a near-death experience for print journalism; that is to say, the process by which the combined talent and efforts of reporters, columnists, photographers, and editors produced a daily portrait of a city, a state, the nation and the world, the loss of Editor & Publisher pretty much says “the times they are a-changing.”

I am willing to bet that weeklies will survive because people want news specific to the town in which they live.

Journalism as the collection and reporting of news is not dead. One can go to any number of Internet sites that provide or aggregate news and opinions for proof of that. In fact, it may be increasing.

You will search long and hard for conservative opinion in the mainstream press. Other than Charles Krauthammer and George Will, it is scant when measured against their liberal counterparts, but they and many other conservative commentators thrive on the Internet.

Broadcast journalism, even in tough times, is surviving, but at the local level it is driven by the motto, “If it bleeds, it leads.” This is why the 6 o’clock news is mostly shootings, fires, and comparable (and dependable) mayhem.

Most of the rest resembles at its best the Fox News Channel, followed far behind by others so partisan it is ugly. I predict that the decline of print journalism will bode well for Bloomberg News, and anything owned by Rupert Murdoch, such as The Wall Street Journal and Fox! The government funded Public Broadcast Networks will survive because they are not dependent on advertising.

At this point, if the Associated Press closed its doors, I would not miss its endless churning of distorted news that looks like it was written in a carnival fun house.

So far this year, 105 newspapers have shut their doors. The number of jobs associated with print journalism is estimated between 10,000 and 40,000, with the top number being most likely. And don’t forget all those folks who ran the presses and the drivers who delivered the papers.

In the first quarter of this year, ad sales declined by 30%. Most classified advertising long ago had migrated to Craig’s List,, and dozens of comparable Internet outlets.

Consider some of the newspapers that are no more; Tucson Citizen, Rocky Mountain News, Baltimore Examiner, Kentucky Post, Cincinnati Post, Albuquerque Tribune, and even the San Juan Star, to name but a few.

Get ready to bury a whole bunch more including the Philadelphia Daily News, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Detroit News, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the New York Daily News; also on death watch, Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report.

I fully understand the economics behind the closings that have occurred and that will continue. I think, however, that other factors have been a work for a very long time.

It is their arrogance.

It is their capitulation to leftist political ideology.

It is their abandonment of accuracy and balance.

The pages of too many newspapers and news magazines scream BIAS.

This was evident with Editor & Publisher that, at least a decade ago or longer, became little more than a leftist rag. Its editors and commentators were ideologues so far out of touch with the events of the real world that the magazine’s demise mirrors the general decline of print journalism.

For myself, I am waiting for The New York Times to tank and take with it some of the worst practitioners of journalism to ever gather in a single city room. Columnists, Paul Krugman and Thomas L. Friedman, are award-winning, clueless ignoramuses. The Times in recent years has specialized in revealing government secrets vital to the greatest enemy of freedom, the fascists that want to impose Islam on the world.

I don’t care how many Pulitzer Prizes the Times has garnered. The nation is filled with newspapers whose display cases are filled with awards, but which are dead or dying because they forgot to print the TRUTH.


TexasFred said...

It is their arrogance?

It is their capitulation to leftist political ideology?

It is their abandonment of accuracy and balance?

In my mind it's a compilation of ALL of the above...

Journalistic integrity has gone by the wayside. Bloggers get more truth out there than the MSM can even dream of.

Folks like you, me, Longstreet and many others, we lay it on the line and we avoid the curse of political correctness. In other words, we tell it like it is!

Of course, Conservative blogs have a definite right hand tilt, and there is nothing wrong with that, the message of the libbers has to be counteracted somewhere, it might as well start with folks like us, Conservative Patriots that tell the truth and offer SANE opinions, no matter the consequences.

Ol James said...

AMEN, Mr. Alan, AMEN!!! My niece works for a local paper as some kind of assistant editor. It's owned by The Times. I told her when she went to work there in '04 or'05, they would tell her what to print, talk, eat and vote. Yep she voted- "O", (he whose name shall not be mentioned).
The paper,(Gadsden Times), has maybe a couple of pages that cover the news locally, regionally and statewide. the rest...well crap, scrap dribble and trash. They shut down their presses and moved them to Rome, GA.
I have noticed there are a number of independent publications appearing in local businesses. My favorite's come from the State COOP and the State AG Commissioner. Ya never know when you might need a goat or tractor..

Alan Caruba said...

Amen, Fred, and Amen!

Alan Caruba said...

James, it would appear that we are in AGREEMENT! :-)

This is like watching the dinosaurs die off.

Longstreet said...

You all have just about covered it! Great piece, Alan!

I am a fan of newspapers. At least, I WAS. I still don't feel my day has begun correctly without a newspaper to read over breakfast.

I have two regionals that reach into my small SENC town. One is owned by the NYT and the other is an independent published near Ft. Bragg. Both are in trouble. The NYT paper is in SERIOUS trouble because it is so far left -- here in CONSERVATIVE NC -- that it is a laughing stock! Both have reduced their physical size, changed the type, dropped a number of features, and, in the case of the NYT paper, stopped home delivery in my town. They still deliver to racks, but that is it.

The independent has done all of the things the NYT paper has done - except stop home delivery.

But delivery is erratic. I might get my paper at 5:20 AM, when I want it, or I might receive it at 8:30 or 9:00 AM. Of course, as one who rises at 2 to 3 AM, every single day (A legacy of 30 years in the broadcast business!), ofttimes, by the time I DO receive my paper, I no longer need it. I have already, long since read the news I am interested in online!

It would seem the newspapers are STILL attempting to IGNORE the INTERNET. However, both the papers I mentioned above have E-editions.

It doesn't make sense. Smart businesses, it seems to me, would have, long ago, figured out how to use the Internet to produce a better product. They didn't -- and it shows -- and it is hurting them, big time!

The wire services are pathetic! AP and Reuters are, in my estimation, tied for the worst of the lot. Both are so damned biased it is sickening. I have become quite adept at guessing which wire service produced a piece, I happen to be reading, by their tendency to use certain phrases and words in describing the US and Americans, in general, and some in particular.

(By the way, am I dating myself by using the term "Wire Services?" I guess so. I come from the time of teletype machines with that box of cheap yellow paper sitting beneath them and a perpetual coil of the stuff continuously creeping out from behind as the machine clattered endlessly, 24 hours a day. I sometimes think I still have some of the ink under my nails from changing ribbons in the things! As an old news hound, I suspect you know exactly what I mean!)

I really DO hate to see newspapers go. My local paper is in the next block and , of course, I know practically everyone on staff. I even exchange photos of grandchildren with the editor. But -- they won't print my "stuff." The paper is a Pulitzer prize winner, and it is dedicated to local news and is published twice a week. It is LIBERAL. It is locally owned, but the owner, publisher, and editor are graduates of the VERY liberal journalism school at UNC!

They won't print my commentaries, but they WILL not hesitate to ask me to write a news report of a local event for publication in their paper. And, of course, I AM such a push-over, that occasionally, I do write a report for them.

Our newspapers will get even worse if the government does "bailout" those major publications now bleeding cash. Those news organizations receiving government money will simply become "house organs" for the socialist/progressive/communist/democrats
currently in charge of what we laughingly refer to as our government. (Many of those papers are already carrying the water for the White House and the Democratic Congress even now.)

Again, it is a great piece, Alan. And, as usual, it was "spot on."

Keep up the good work, my friend!

J.D. Longstreet

Alan Caruba said...

Thank you, J.D.

I miss a newspaper in the morning, too.

When I stopped my subscription, I knew an era was over.

Unknown said...

As a newspaper owner, I'd like to agree with you.
It shocks me to see what is happening in the world of newspapers.

My weekly/hometown/local paper is at an all-time high for subscriptions.

I concentrate on ignoring the world outside my area unless there is a direct tie to my people.

Folks can find out regional/state/national/world news on the internet.

They can not find news about our town there.

And this would be correct in all but the largest towns in the nation... meaning a local newspaper could thrive in a big city if they would invest the time and reporters in finding out local news for their readers.

Alan Caruba said...

Thanks, Rob. And glad to have my view confirmed by someone in the business of newspapers.

Necromancer said...

Texas Fred,OI James and JD Longstreet nice blogs and pages you have.And you of course Alan. I have visited all of them in the last few moments and will add them to bookmarks as soon as I make another folder.
One thing though we have been at war a lot longer than that 3000 plus days.I'd say at least back to 79 but actually long before that.We always will be because there is always some entity or another that NEEDS an attitude adjustment of some sort.And we are the only people that can do that.

McLovin said...

LOL, this is hilarious. This guy fantasizes that his views are still important, and meaningful...when in reality his journalism career is OVER. And probably for good reason: NO ONE CARES what he thinks. Seems you're a legend in YOUR OWN MIND,and ONLY there, eh, Alan?

Let's have a total of 9 comments on this article (and 4 of those comments are from the blog owner himself)...and there are currently roughly 308 MILLION people in U.S. Further, since the internet is essentially GLOBAL in its reach, I might also point out that the current World population is 6.8 BILLION. And here you have- apparently - a total of FIVE readers of your blog. Do you realize what that suggests? It suggests that there is darn near close to ZERO INTEREST in your viewpoint.

So I have to ask you: Why bother? I mean, seriously...don't you have anything more useful to do with your time? It seems quite futile, don't you think?

I dunno, maybe it makes you feel important to write down your thoughts? Do you pretend that you're having a conversation with someone while you're "blogging"? I hope not...because if you do, then you're seriously delusional. NO ONE IS PAYING ATTENTION. Get it? Your few devoted "followers" appear to be as clueless as you are. Ignorance loves company, I guess.

Maybe if you had a little better grasp of reality, more people would read your opinions (then again, if that were the case, you might actually still employed as a journalist)

Alas, you're probably no longer employable as anything, at this point...just a useless, fading anachronism from a bygone time. Must be "watching the dinosaurs die off." LOL.

Pathetic, really.

Alan Caruba said...

You are a MORON.

For your information, my daily blog posts also appear on and are picked up by some 40 or so other news and opinion websites and blogs.

How many people read my commentaries? I have no idea, but if the email from places like Australia, Great Britain and the Philippines are any measure, the numbers of considerable.

To spare you making a greater fool of yourself, any more of your comments will be blocked.

Travis sez said...

Alan, you are so right about the demise of print journalism. I remember canceling my subscription to the SF Chronicle in 1995. They actually called me for my reason. What I said was, that my parakeet had died. The real reason was the blatant bias, not just of the stories, but of how they were framed in the summary of headlines at the top of page one. Very often the headline was skewed, so that someone with little time or interest to read the article would come away with a nonsensical slant on the news. Thousands were duped in this way.

Rich Kozlovich said...

Here is the crux of the matter; the local scene will be covered by local weekly or monthly tabloids. How good a job they do is a separate issue! But if the major papers go out of business they will get better and make more money. Just think of the long term potential. Local tabloids popping up all over the country to take the place of large rags that print claptrap! True democracy in practice!

The major’s are dying because of a lack of advertising, not just because people aren’t really reading them. People bought these papers because that is all there was. Once there were other outlets they stopped buying papers because they didn’t agree with what they were saying and didn’t need them. Advertisers found better and cheaper ways to advertising their products and services.

The major’s who are left will charge large amounts for their papers, as the Wall Street Journal does, and will print the full story or they will go out of business also. However, if advertising dollars were still available, or replaced by some government program, as in the past they would still print claptrap whether anyone bought their papers of not. After all, those advertising dollars are drying up rapidly and they still print claptrap.

Northpal said...

You are a typical sheep looking for a popularity contest.
Your comprehension skills are about that level.
You have no independent mind or critical thinking, you suggest your limits are dictated by a nielsen ratings or some other false measure of knowledge and fact.
You are a perfect candidate for mob rule.
You are one of the many dumbed down who think America is a democracy.
We are a republic, we grew and thrived on the right to speak truth even if it manifested in minority view.
Through out history the preservation of a counterview has progressed mankind out of the darkness of programmed consensus.
It is being played right before your eyes as the world is being manipulated back to the stone age with the global warming hoax.
But lets get our terminology correct,
Truth as a popularity contest or consensus of group think is manipulated brainwashing.
It can only thrive with out the competition of a independent counterview.
One day as you present your wrist to be scanned, watching a TV monitor with only one channel, one voice,one view point, one truth.
You may have a moment of clarity to ponder how things "progressed" to that point.
Then maybe your mind will bring back a blog entry you read from
Friday, December 11, 2009 entitled:
"Journalism isn't Dead, but Newspapers are" By Alan Caruba.