Monday, March 19, 2012

Ink or Swim

It will come as no surprise to anyone (except, no doubt, the newspaper industry) that traditional newspapers are dying faster than scantily clad coeds in a slasher film. Which is why the Council of Economic Advisers has just awarded the newspaper business the coveted title of "America's fastest-shrinking industry" measured by actual jobs lost.

The culprit being blamed is that old devil "technology" - you know, the same evil force that Barack Obama cited when saying that ATM machines have stolen the jobs of bank tellers, kiosks at airports have taken the jobs of ticket agents, and Turbotax has eliminated the need for accountants unless you're a moron, a tax cheat or, in Timothy Geithner's case, both.

But in our opinion, the problem for many newspapers wasn't that the Internet could deliver news more's that the Internet showed many people that they weren't really receiving "news" at all.

Instead, there was left-leaning propaganda picked up from the New York Times, the AP, Reuters, and - especially - the Whitehouse. And because many newspapers didn't want to write anything bad about Barack Obama (as they had about George Bush), they found that they didn't really have anything
left to write about. It's not like they could fill many pages with the good news coming out of the Obamaconomy.

And the ugliness didn't stop with spin-heavy news stories and editorials. Even the "funny pages" stopped being funny thanks to unending diatribes from the likes of
Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau, who spent this past week running a series of cartoons accusing Texas of raping women by insisting on pre-abortion ultrasounds prior to performing abortions (although oddly, Trudeau hasn't condemned the many actual rapes committed by his pals in the OWS movement).

Trudeau says he was inspired to do the cartoons because he was so deeply
offended that Rush Limbaugh used the word "slut" to describe a woman...unlike Trudeau himself, who ran a series in September 2011 in which he accused Sarah Palin of being a trash-talking, racist, cheating wife and unfit mother in a push-up bra. A series so offensive that Hope n' Change can say with 100% certainty that it cost the Dallas Morning News at least one decades-long subscription. Ours.

Happily, the news about newspapers isn't all bad. The
Wall Street Journal is going strong because it knows the difference between news and editorials - and presents both with a level of excellence which is worth paying for.

And smaller, localized papers are still doing well by concentrating on community interests - a good example being the South Shore Standard, a weekly newspaper which has long featured
Hope n' Change Cartoons on their Opinion Page (eat your heart out, Eric Holder - I'm a Constitutionally-protected journalist!)

Still, it's sad to see traditional newspapers increasingly writing their own obituaries. But it was inevitable once they decided to stop writing about the dangers of, and damage from, this presidency.

Surprisingly, after three years it isn't the FISH that are giving off the stench.


Coon Tasty said...

Beware, SJ: Holder doesn't care about the Constitution.

John Robert Mallernee, KB3KWS, in Vernal, Utah said...

This was excellent!

Copied, posted, and duly credited at my "OUR ETERNAL STRUGGLE" web site.

BS Footprint said...

We use a local paper (free) to start fires in our fireplace. Not useful for much else around here.

miniskunk said...

Not to mention that newspapers (especially Gannet owned ones) only report a few paragraphs at most on most stories. It doesn't say indeed. Either it's just being plain cheap or after they filtered out what they don't like in a story there isn't much left to print. I get more news out of my local small town paper than I do from the bigger town paper that reports on local and national. I certainly get more online that they will ever bother to print.

Angry Hoosier Dad said...

They would never admit it, but our local rag is the mouthpiece for the Democrat party in our county. When they endorsed Clenis for a second term, knowing what they knew about him, they caused me to dump them. After a couple years we resubscribed but only to the Sunday paper. By then they had instituted cost-cutting measures to stave off bankruptcy. They literally reduced the height and width of the paper and I could swear the paper stock itself is thinner than it used to be. And, of course, they increased the price. Typical liberalism...if nobody's buying the crap you put out, make it more expensive for the loyal subscribers who are left. And they wonder why they are going under. Brilliant!

Emmentaler Limburger said...

As indicated by many already, the media has long been co-opted by the progressives, and has not been a reliable source of information since prior to the Vietnam war. It is no more surprising to see the industry contract than it is to see them blame the internet for their decline.

Personally, since the time of the Detroit newspaper strikes, I've seen purchasing a newspaper as lending aid and comfort to the enemy...

Suzy said...

I find it interesting that they feel an ultrasound is a "rape" but to me, an abortion is, in itself, the ultimate "rape". If they're going to make THAT comparison, abortion is so, so, so much worse than a simple ultrasound, many of which can just be done externally.

Pete(Detroit) said...

The thing that REALLY chaps me is that there is a sportswriter in one of the locals who described a local pro athlete's reaction to his college team winning a tournament. Problem is, the athlete sued for a retraction, as he was not at the event described. Which the writer would have known, had HE been there. So, here we have a guy getting sued for making crap up about an event he was supposed to attend and report on, but didn't.
Jackass still has a job.
AND a radio show...
I just don't GET it...

FlyBoy said...

Not to worry-I'm sure the 'Bamster will come up with some kind of taxpayer funded bailout for all his pals in the print media. After all, he couldn't do HIS job if they didn't do theirs.

CenTexTim said...

Suzy - I don't disagree with your main point, but to pick a nit ... The Texas law makes an ultrasound mandatory prior to an abortion. The abortion itself is optional. I think the mandatory v. optional issue is what's ruffling the left's feathers. Otherwise, like I said, I'm on your side.

Stilton - I still subscribe to the San Antonio Express/News, primarily for local coverage. They recognize that's their niche and do a pretty good job of it. For the most it's a left-leaning paper, but at least they admit it (sort of) and try (pretend?) to present both sides of an issue. I think that's a business decision, not a philosophical one. They realize they can't afford to alienate half their readers. For example, they ran the recent Doonesbury cartoons on the editorial page, not the comics.

Earl said...

I agree with you completely. That's why "choice" is such a clever and insidious word used by these people. They know, we know, everyone knows it's a code word for abortion on demand. And now we're supposed to get outraged on behalf of Texas women seeking abortions because they are required to have a sonogram first? And this procedure is called rape? The hypocrisy never ends.

John the Econ said...

Even though Trudeau has always been overwhelmingly liberal, I used to faithfully read Doonesbury up until the blatant sycophantcy during Clinton years made it just intolerable. It stopped being amusing because humor only works when there's elements of truth to it, and when it's not being used to cover-up the obvious failings of the authors ideology.

He had a great series mocking Al Gore during the '80s. About 10 years ago, I discovered that those series had been purged from the on-line archive. Wasn't surprised.

IMHO, the funny pages haven't been worth the effort since Calvin & Hobbes ended in the '90s.

The recent dust-up over the "artist" doing the hit-job on the late Steve Jobs is a good example of why the traditional media is failing. The MSM attempts to defend itself against the out-of-control bloggers by stating that they control quality. The reality is that there's little real quality in the MSM; if a story fits the liberal-populist narrative, it prints. No questions asked.

Yes, the Wall Street Journal seems to have no problem bucking this trend. I'm happy to send them my money. I also faithfully read my community paper, which actually covers my community, which differentiates it from the larger "metro" paper, which is only useful if you are interested in the latest entertainment gossip or leftist pandering.

But fear not MSM; in the 2nd Obama term, federal support for your failing industry will be on the way. You'll be federal employees, just like our doctors will be.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Coon Tasty- Beware, Holder; SJ does care about the Constitution.

@John Robert Mallernee- Thank you, sir!

@BS Footprint- Sadly, here in Texas we've had a longstanding "burn ban" and so can't dispose of newspaper stories praising Obama in the preferred method. However, we take comfort from knowing that recycled newspapers may return in the form of toilet paper which we can use to show our feelings.

@miniskunk- I feel the same way. You can practically sense the big black "redacted" boxes in stories where important or inconvenient information has been pulled. By the time I stopped my subscription, the Dallas Morning News contained almost no news at all; just the worst (most liberal) stories cherrypicked from their sources - all word for word the same as stories I could pick up on the web 24 hours earlier if I bothered to google "yellow journalism."

@Angry Hoosier Dad- Same story here. Despite being in a clearly Conservative area, the Dallas Morning News pounded the liberal message. Subscribers ran for the exits, and the price of the paper skyrocketed to compensate. Small wonder that the Obama administration has, more than once, suggested creating a government subsidy to keep newspapers alive. Because, you know, they're doing such a vital job in keeping the electorate informed.

@Emmentaler- I agree with you straight down the line, though there are a few worthies like the WSJ that are a sheer pleasure to buy: not just because of the content (which is superb) but because it annoys the owner of every liberal rag who can't figure out why they're bleeding money and jobs in Obama's "roaring back" economy.

@Suzy- For Trudeau and his type, "rape" has only to do with consent. If a woman doesn't want a speculum used during a gynocological exam, then she has been "raped" if one is used. Likewise, no "rape" takes place if she goes to "Abortions R Us" and willingly lets the technician jam an entire shop vac up her birth canal.

But there's a little problem with Trudeau's argument; if rape comes down to consent, then women shouldn't go to an abortion clinic if they won't consent to all of the legally mandated procedures. Still looking for more "choice" in a Pro-Choice world? Fine - there are 49 other states. Go to one of them...and don't let the screen door hit you on the way out.

@Pete(Detroit)- I've got nothing against fiction, I just don't like it presented as news. And I sure as heck won't pay for it.

My Dog Brewski said...

Subsidies for moribund newspapers is half the equation. The other half is limiting free speech on the internet (and everywhere else).

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@FlyBoy- I feel confident that newspapers will receive subsidies if Obama gets a second term. Of course, by that time they may simply be "big brother" style flyers posted on our doors and public buildings.

@CenTexTim- Per your remarks to Suzy, the Left hates the ultrasound being mandatory. And actually, since ultrasound is normally used prior to many abortions anyway, what they really hate is having the physician describe what is about to be removed from the womb. Is that hard on a woman's "feelings?" No doubt. But the purpose isn't, as Trudeau suggests, to shame the woman - but rather to make sure that she's treating at least one decision in her life as an adult, without being able to dodge facts and realities just to maintain her level of personal comfort.

Regarding newspapers, I actually have a love affair with them. I love the look, feel, and habit of reading them. And I could tolerate a paper which at least tries to be fair (even if the reasons are only economic). And if they want to stick Doonesbury on the editorial page instead of next to Blondie, fine. More power to 'em.

On a side note, I'm sure it will come as no surprise that I love comics. I only cut the cord to my local newspaper when I discovered services like GoComics and MyComics which would allow me to pay for an online subscription to the ones I care about (Pearls Before Swine, Piranha Club, Ballard Street, and more...AND I could cherry pick from great conservative editorial cartoonists like Mike Lester and Michael Ramirez. Sweet.)

@Earl- Well put. When it comes to abortion, no woman should have the "choice" to be uninformed about what the procedure actually involves. So perhaps the Left's new banner should be "Ignorance!" It is, after all, what they're fighting for on so many fronts.

@John the Econ- In a relatively recent interview which I won't waste time googling, Garry F. Trudeau said that the Obama administration has been a challenge for him because the president is so perfect that he gives cartoonists nothing to work with (note to Garry - call me! I'd like to introduce you to reality!).

And on a side note, when you say "Calvin & Hobbes," choirs of angels sing. In my head, anyway.

And I don't doubt that newspapers will be subsidized if Obama gets a second whack at the national jugular with his axe. Just look at the impassioned arguments which took place to keep federal funding for NPR - with people claiming that there was no place else for millions of people to get their news. Except, you know, the 400 channels on their TV set, the 12,000 radio stations on the Internet, and...most importantly... Hope n' Change Cartoons.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@My Dog Brewski- Hey, they're working on the whole "limitation of free speech" as fast as they can. Obama couldn't get it all done at once, what with killing Bin Laden and golfing and everything.

John the Econ said...

Yes @Stilton, I can imagine that Obama is quite a challenge for Trudeau and his ilk; how does one maintain a job where it's supposedly one's responsibility to mock the very obvious inadequacies of our leaders while at the same time elevating them above all reproach? Mutually exclusive, if you ask me.

Pete(Detroit) said...

In very meager support of Trudeau, I *did* enjoy his icon for Clinton - a Waffle, as I recall...

And full agreed on the fiction point, Stilt.

Suzy said...

I agree that the comics are worthless without Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side. Oh, and Baby Blues. :-)

Mike Porter said...

I remember a time when 'The Onion' was distinguishable from 'real' news outlets by it's over the top, tongue in cheek reporting of real and made up events - now I must look to the credibility factor.. if there is none then it's not The Onion. This was around the same time when 'Gray Lady Down' referred to a movie I once saw, not an explanation of what the New York Times is doing with its head in Obamas' lap.

Colby said...

Yup! I cancelled my subscription to the Charlotte Disturber years ago, but even our small, hometown paper is starting down the same path. They still do a fair job of trying to please all the people all the time, but lately I've noticed more and more crap. Who the hell is Fromma Harrop and why the hell is she getting space in a small town "news" paper with less than 20k circulation?! I'll cancel their asses, too, if they don't straighten up.

My wife still buys a Sunday Disturber, but she pulls out the coupon section and the rest goes to the fireplace or to the animal shelter for dogs to crap on. Although I don't stick around to witness it, I rather enjoy the thought of the latter.

Sheik Obama may push the newspaper subsidy thing if he manages to hang on to his current golfing/mandating gig in November, but even HE has to realize it is a two edged sword. If they give money to poor widdle struggling liberal rags, they will also have to dish out taxpayer money to papers that still print the news in an unbiased fashion. This principle is what is keeping them at bay on silencing guys like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin with a "fairness" doctrine.

I think it's somewhat amusing that papers that are run by liberals will keep pushing the ignorant crap in their publications, right in to oblivion. I mean, if you were selling candy bars made out of dog shit, and people stopped buying them, wouldn't you try and find a flavor people actually LIKED?!

I remember when Doonsbury was funny and entertaining. Now it is very obviously a bitter extension of a bitter man who sees his his utopian vision of Obama swirling down the toilet. My it, too go the way of the Rocky Mountain News.

John the Econ said...

@Colby, Froma Harrop is likely the best example of liberal media cognitive dissonance on public display. She openly bemoans the lack of "civility" in public discourse, and then proceeds to call Tea Party participants and generally anyone to the right of Pelosi "Nazis" and "Terrorists". She's so bad that even Jon Stewart felt compelled to
mock her.

Any paper that decides to carry her can't be taken seriously.

I wouldn't make the assumption that anything to the right of the New York Times would get subsidized. (Where's the right-wing version of NPR?) The left only promotes these ideas because they only plan on funding what they deem appropriate. And logically, since anyone to the right of the NYT is a "Nazi" or "terrorist", it would not be appropriate to fund anything else.

But you are right about Trudeau; he's a bitter grown-up hippie who's watched everything he's believed in become the nightmare we all said it would be. To do anything else would be to admit that their whole adult lives have been a complete fraud.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@John the Econ- Makes me think of the "Oscar-winning documentarian" who just did Obama's campaign film "The Road We've Travelled," and said Obama's only negative is that he's done too much wonderful stuff to fit into a 17 minute film. Right.

@Pete(Detroit)- Yeah, that's about as much credit as I'd give Trudeau, too.

@Suzy- "Far Side" and "Baby Blues" are definitely ones I like (or liked). Though I have to admit the guilty pleasure of really loving "Mark Trail," too - for all the wrong reasons.

@Mike Porter- It's funny (or, um, not) how often people confuse stories from The Onion with real stories. It's very, very hard to do satire or parody anymore, because "reality" has gotten so ridiculous.

@Colby- Froma Harrop is really a despicable excuse for a human being; Rush doesn't have the words in his vocabulary to accurately label the woman, but Bill Maher does. Harrop is the "journalist" who says - without irony or metaphor - that Tea Partiers are terrorists.

Regarding newspaper subsidies, I think it's safe to say that no tax money would go to conservative (or even balanced) papers. I'm sure there would be entanglements which the few remaining real journalists would find unacceptable (like a "content review" every few months to see if your funding would continue).

As you point out, it's interesting that the business models are quite clear for news organizations which want to succeed: report the news without bias, give balanced coverage of events, give substantive analysis which is genuinely meaningful, and make your editorial page conservative (or at least balanced). But noOOooo... a lot of newspapers would rather go broke than practive journalism again.

@John the Econ- Thanks for sharing the link to the amusing video of her.

And your summation about Trudeau is spot on. Like others on the Left (especially in the MSM) Obama really IS the dream they've been living for...and now that the stench is rising, they need to pretend that it's perfume, while trying to convince us of the same.

CenTexTim said...

Hey Stilt: Loved Calvin & Hobbes, like most folks. Another strip that I hold in high esteem (like H n' C, of course) is Bloom County.

I'm sure you know its evolution from a strip in the UT student paper (The Academia Waltz) to a nationally syndicated strip that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1987. The kicker, of course, is that the strip poked fun at both liberals and conservatives. Today it would never get published in print. It would have to carve out an online niche (much like H n' C, with the notable exception of the South Shore Standard).

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@CenTexTim- Yeah, I liked Bloom County (and "Opus"). They leaned liberal, but there was at least a little balance. Plus the art and the humor were good. I don't need everyone to agree with me on everything, I just don't want to read someone who is a spiteful a-hole every day.

Coon Tasty said...

Am I the only one who reads Mallard Fillmore?

Jim Hlavac said...

Ah, Stilt, I'm late to the fray -- but I'll add, even if just for you -- I used to be a daily reader of the NY Times, starting in 6th Grade even. Back when news was news. And then, by the last 1980s I noticed a distinct shift to mush. By the 1990s I was appalled by half the verbiage. But by 2000 I thought it was time to stop reading it. It had become simply propaganda for big gov't.

I remember when there were blaring headlines in the late '70s: The Ice Age Cometh, gov't action needed! Then by late '90s: The Hot Age Cometh, gov't action needed! There was no comparison between the glaring opposites of their own headlines. And then it became painfully obvious -- it makes no difference to the Times which age cometh, Ice, Hot, Moderate, Perfect -- Gov't action needed! Blah!

The cherry on top? When they came out (pun) editorially for gay marriage on Feb 13th! Instead of Feb 14th! -- at the last possible moment when it was apparent that gay folks did the work, and the legislature would make the law -- the Times was tardy -- well, I was just pissed as hell and that was that. Never another dime to the bums.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Coon Tasty- I read Mallard Fillmore, but I only rarely (very rarely) find it funny. Oh, I admire the artwork, and the writing is on target, and I'm glad there's at least one voice of conservatism on the comics page. But wishing Mallard Fillmore had more punch and more humor was one of the inspirations behind the creation of Hope n' Change Cartoons.

@Jim Hlavac- You've successfully deciphered the NYT template: "(Your crisis goes here) - Government Action Needed!"

Their endorsement of Gay marriage sounds much like Bill Clinton's way of doing things: wait for the parade to start, then run to the front and claim to be the leader.

Colby said...

"Their endorsement of Gay marriage sounds much like Bill Clinton's way of doing things: wait for the parade to start, then run to the front and claim to be the leader."

Does this remind anybody of BO's rush to take full credit for the alleged killing of OBL? Assuming the guy is really dead, I don't suppose the 7 years George Bush spent trying to track him down accomplished a damn thing, right? It still makes my head explode when the Blamer in Chief brags about this "accomplishment," but it was something that George Bush worked on for years and years.

And.... Dilbert is my favorite. But then again, I'm an engineer. Wally is my hero.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Colby- You can bet that if the raid on Osama had failed, it would have been a "rogue operation."

And I certainly didn't mean to overlook "Dilbert" when mentioning comics I like. Even when not cartooning, Scott Adams is a really funny and really intelligent guy.

Emmentaler Limburger said...

@Colby: Scott Adam's once summarized my life with "I'm an engineer. I make slides that people can't read. Sometimes I eat doughnuts..." (26 September 1995)

John the Econ said...

I also miss Bloom County, which quickly went down hill after its author suffered an ultralight accident. Yes, it was certainly left-leaning, but it was frequently on-target and more humorous than nasty. I still read the 25-year-old re-runs on-line each morning. I am constantly amused at how poorly the left-wing jabs have aged. Reagan really did win the cold war. Sorry lefties.

Re the NYT: My favorite anecdote is: "(your crisis here), women, children and minorities hardest hit".

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Emmentaler- There's a reason that Adams' cartoons are the "most cut out and posted." He's a very funny guy. I've got scads of his cartoon collections (my Dad was a cartoonist, and so I grew up loving and admiring the art form).

@John the Econ- I hadn't known about Berkeley Breathed's accident. Stylistically, the art reminded me a lot of Doonesbury, but there was a whimsy and honesty which helped counterbalance the liberal sentiments.

And I do like that NY Times template, and the bigger the disaster, the better it works: "Earth To Be Destroyed By Asteroid; Minorities and Women Hit Hardest."

Jim Hlavac said...

Mallard Fillmore is one of the great cartoons. Too bad only on Sundays in the local rag (which the old man I tended, reads everyday, as if there's news in it.)

Calvin and Hobbes - another great one.

John the Econ said...

Of course, the NYT likes to foster the image that it and it's readers are intellectually superior. And yet their endless reliance upon that emotional meme demonstrates that it's not.

REM1875 said...

I dropped the Fort Worth startattler gram the day willie jeff clinton said "we must cut out the voice of hate and discontent" The lady who took my call asked Why? I said because the paper was too...She finished my sentence with the word 'liberal'. I guess I was not the first call she had received. My life improved immediately! I think the slickster was talking about Rush but it didn't take a genius to figure out where the real hate and discontent were coming from!