So much for right-wing turns making journalism “lively”

I’ve been reading a number of newspaper writers (or former ones) diagnosing What Went Wrong at their respective (ex-)rags lately, and go figure, a lot of them are saying things remarkably like what the guy at Whap! Whap! said in October:

About 10 years ago, The Columbian hired a former Gannett editor who quickly stripped the paper of its local character, turning it into a clone of every corporate franchise in the country.

At the same time, the editor and publisher took a hard turn to the right politically.

Also at the same time, the company (which had been a pioneer in digital media) turned newsprint-centric, crippling the website while greatly expanding its print product.

So this newly right-wing, ink-on-paper dynasty did what every right-wing entity does: Go deeply in debt, mortgaging its future for short-term pleasure.

Today, the once-proud institution is a journalistic and business disaster.

Did you catch that second-last paragraph, kiddies? It said “…what every right-wing entity does: Go deeply in debt, mortgaging its future for short-term pleasure.”

That “short-term pleasure”, I think, is what used to be referred to, a little over ten years ago, as “lively journalism”. I was in j-school at the time, and I got to witness this ugly transformation first-hand. That was about the time when formerly respectable newspapers began to jazz themselves up in a big way with dodgy political and economic pundits, and began sacrificing the real news (which was perceived to be suffering from Liberal Bias) in the name of “balance” or, worse, “liveliness”. Such hard-to-starboard rolls didn’t cause me to take more interest in the papers, but rather a whole lot less, for a simple reason: More often than not, they simply suck out whatever lifeblood was left at a once-readable paper and replace it with candy-scented embalming fluid.

Up here in the Great North, the apotheosis of this euphoric neo-conservative lunacy was the National Post, founded by Conrad Black (once Lord of Crossharbour, now Inmate 18330-424 in a Florida penitentiary.) Basically, it was the chief tout of hardcore Friedmanism with a boob job (come to think of it, so was Black’s wife, who was eulogized in the National Post as a paragon of style long after her husband’s pride-and-joy had been sold off to finance his high-living fraud habit.) And as long as the economy was booming, this model could point to itself and crow that This Was The Way Things Should Be Done. Profits were through the roof! Costs were below the sub-basement! Local reporting was replaced by wire-service pap! Unions were busted, and shareholders were salivating! Whoopee!

Of course, now that the “booming” bubble economy that financed all this flummery has gone poof, so has that model. And everything that relied on it for a semblance of success is in freefall, including media outlets (newsprint and other) that relied on right-wing nuttery to “liven” them up. Lord Black is in jail, and Lady Babs is a social pariah (O horrors!), and frankly, their fall from grace–and that of their ex-newspaper–ought to have been a harbinger to someone besides myself.

But then again, I’m not the sort of person to be fooled by “lively” trash.

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2 Responses to So much for right-wing turns making journalism “lively”

  1. watercat says:

    LOL. The end result = I read your blog every day, and I’ve never even heard of the Colombian. Integrity pays off, maybe.

  2. Capitalists don’t think so…but that’s THEIR loss. I’m just sorry it happens to take so many good people down with a badly-run ship.

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