The traditional press is panicking because they are losing circulation. Management is responding to market pressure, not readers. In Seattle and surrounding areas, conventional wisdom suggests some major papers will go under.
This would seem to create a wonderful negative synergy that might somehow be exploited to return responsibility to the newsroom and the publisher's office.
My grudge became a vendetta with the 2004 elections.
Washington's newspapers spared no ink when the gubernatorial race went into overtime. They reported ad nauseum claims from Chris Vance and various attorneys about fraud, in King County, somewhere. No fraud was found. The case they brought to a Chelan County courtroom was so weak it didn't have a breath left afterward to utter the word, "appeal."
On the opposite side, rampant and demonstrated purposeful disenfranchisement of voters occurred in Ohio under the direction of that state's Bush campaign chair (and Ohio secretary of state) J. Kenneth Blackwell. The fraud was documented in an extensive report from the offices of Congressman John Conyers, supported by a subsequent GAO study. Not one word in the Seattle Times. Not one word in the Seattle P-I. Not one word in the Tacoma News Tribune. Not one damned word.
This is, to be sure, not the only example of the so-called liberal media walking in lockstep with reactionaries, but it is one which demonstrates how completely these newspapers have failed as objective, responsible media. Utterly failed.
Panic! Losing circulation!
A closer look reveals that shrinkage is occurring for major newspapers as much in the Seinfeld sense as in circulation. Molly Ivins wrote a couple of weeks ago that newspaper's management is being spooked by a few Wall Street analysts. Readership is down 13 percent since its 1985 peak, but publicly traded US newspapers average a 20 percent profit margin. The reduction in staff and news coverage, according to the redoubtable Ms. Ivins, is not likely to improve either readership or the bottom line. Ivins opines that the recent purchase by McClatchy of Knight Ridder, a company three times its size, was made possible by fears, not facts.
On a broad scale, Ivins reports on a bid by the Newspaper Guild in alliance with the Communication Workers of America on 12 newspapers that must be spun off from the McClatchy-KR merger. These are not remnants and include the Philadelphia Inquirer, San Jose Mercury News and St. Paul Pioneer Press. Should the sale go through, these could presumably be run as news organizations.
In the Puget Sound area we certainly have a number of advertising circulars masquerading as newspapers, but there are also a number (say three or four) of newspapers which have pretenses to relevance. They look very much like each other. And the dance of death between the PI and the Times is ongoing news.
So what do I propose?
I have no suggestion. I have only bitterness. Somebody else might have a scheme. I do not see much to choose between the top three or four. I do think a winner might look more like the New York Times than the King County Journal.
Postscript on Newsweek:
When did Newsweek get so bad?
I don't know if I'm ahead of the curve, or if Newsweek missed the curve. I picked up a copy from a bus seat the other day. They were channeling Karl Rove and FoxNews style reporting on Iran. It is almost funny that in Iran the mirror image of our right-wing nuts is beating the other side of the drum trying to get some juice for their own failed regime.
Has nobody noticed that sanctions worked in Iraq? Intelligence failed, but sanctions worked.
The Republicans will apparently stop at nothing during campaign season. This administration is incompetent and corrupt. Are we really going to witness a replay of the Iraq calamity? Let the international community lead. And sanctions work.