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Dark Clouds Aren't Just Above Newsrooms

By Andy Alexander

As everyone knows, it's a challenging business environment for newspapers. The Post has been forthright in reporting on its own financial problems (the paper is losing money). Media writer Howard Kurtz wrote recently about the condition of the industry, and business columnist Steve Pearlstein just made the case for investing in struggling newspapers. Some of my Sunday columns have chronicled the cutbacks in content.

Working at a newspaper these days, reporters and editors are understandably emotionally affected by budget tightening. But gratuitous references to our plight are making their way into The Post and other newspapers, and I suspect that, for many readers, they verge on tiresome self-pity.

Thursday's "Reliable Source" gossip column had an item that speculated on discussion topics when some of the richest Americans recently held a top-secret meeting to discuss social problems. Listed on the imaginary agenda: "Figuring out how to save the newspaper business. Please?"

A review of the movie "State of Play" talked about how a fictional publication is "in the throes of a redesign process that will look eerily familiar to loyal newsprint readers (yes, both of you)." Actually, that would not apply to The Post, where circulation is holding relatively steady.

Earlier this year, humor writer Gene Weingarten devoted an entire column to saving the business with ideas like turning newspaper delivery vans into pet taxicabs and using newsprint as "kindling for arson-related business decisions." (Okay, I concede it was a pretty funny piece.)

The point is that we'd do well to remember that there are dark clouds over lots of folks, not just those working in newsrooms.

As journalists, we're understandably focused on our own industry because it's where we work and what we love, and we tend to spend endless hours looking at our own predicament. Web sites like the Poynter Institute's Romenesko and Newspaper Death Watch chronicle what sounds like a daily death knell. On another site, AngryJournalist.com, worried and disgruntled scribes vent their frustrations in what are frequently obscenity-laced rants.

But local and network television newscasts are facing similar challenges and cutbacks, and you don't hear anchors sulking to viewers.

It's okay to write about the industry's predicament or the quality of the product readers hold in their hand. But we're not at the center of the universe. And, in the broader scheme of things, it's not about us. I'm sure many auto dealers would agree.

By Andy Alexander  | May 22, 2009; 12:19 PM ET
 
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Comments

Today's media, including the Wash Post do such a poor job they basically misinform the public. If the went out of business it would not be a net loss to the public.

Posted by: tgilligan3 | May 24, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Today's media, including the Wash Post do such a poor job they basically misinform the public. If the went out of business it would not be a net loss to the public.

Posted by: tgilligan3 | May 24, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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