Friday, May 11, 2007

Bonfire of the Vanities

There was an employee protest yesterday over job cuts at the Star Tribune. It’s never a funny thing when someone loses their job, but some of the signs were both amusing and revealing:

“Save Quality Journalism."

“Newspaper job cuts endanger democracy”

“Help! Journalism is in peril!”

The delusion born of self-importance and the old media echo chamber is heavily evident in the above sentiments. First, that each and every newspaper must and/or will forever have some sort of sanctified first claim on the First Amendment. Second, that newspapers are not subject to market forces or emerging technologies. Third, that declining circulation is not a consumer comment on ‘quality.’

If the Star Tribune protesters want to see some basic reasons why they are losing their jobs, they can read the interview by departing editor Jim Boyd and reactions to same from Hugh Hewitt, Scott Johnson at Powerline (here, here and here) and Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters.

Perhaps the most amusing quote comes from STRIB columnist Nick Coleman in his TV commentary on channel 9 when he said “People need to know what’s going on.” Of course there are lots of things that the STRIB doesn’t cover, like the Appeal for Courage petition that soldiers presented to Congress this week. This sort of mindset is wrapped in Jim Boyd's comments:

“…you kind of held your nose when you ran Mona Charon or Debra Saunders. I mean good grief. Jonah Goldberg? Finally, we were able to get rid of that bugger.”

Obviously, covering all viewpoints in news or commentary was not on the STRIB radar screen. Despite an excellent layout and style, the news and comment content drove customers away, leaving an opening for what’s happening now. Consumers can quickly see what they’re missing, and with the STRIB they miss a lot. Witness the huge lack of objective examination of DFL candidate Keith Ellison last year. Powerline did more digging and examination than the STRIB did (here, here, here and here), exposing the ‘news gap.’ The STRIBs 'see no evil' approach to Patty Wetterling’s outrageous comments during the ’07 campaign was glaring as well (see my own post on 10/5/07, “Patty Wetterling’s Dishonesty, the Star Tribune’s Complicity”).

Bottom line: the arrogance and blind eye that the STRIB staff had toward its own bias as well as an inability to adapt to new technology sowed the seeds of their own destruction.

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