Yep, you read that right. Denver's Rocky Mountain News is finished, its last edition to be published today. If you haven't been following current events, anyone working for a newspaper these days is more likely to get laid off than dudes in the building trades and the automotive industry. Ask folks at the Philly Inquirer, which filed for bankruptcy this week.
In addition to casualties and cutbacks last year, including implosive conditions at the hard-left Minneapolis Star-Tribune (aka the "Strib"), severe publishing cutbacks for Detroit's papers, and the bankruptcy filing of the Chicago Tribune (which organization also includes the LA Times and the Baltimore Sun), we're now hearing that the venerable San Francisco Chronicle is at death's door; that the Gannett chain (aka USA Today and others), headquartered here in my backyard in Tysons Corner, VA is forcing all personnel to take a one week "furlough" in Q1 09; and that the New York Times, the world's most overrated rag, has cut its dividend, with its stock now residing firmly in the low single digits.
Full of themselves and oblivious to the corrosive power of the Internet on their traditional business, America's big newspapers fancied themselves bigwigs and kingmakers, and indeed arguably did power the propaganda machine that crowned as President this January a man with less political experience than Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who the press slandered, maligned, and dismissed. Meanwhile, the dailies' want ads headed to Craigslist, their real estate ads disappeared as online listings took hold at realtors' websites, and younger readers, used to obtaining their info on the web failed to subscribe in sufficient numbers to maintain traditional profit margins.
With department stores, grocery stores, discount stores, and drug emporiums withdrawing advertising as well, along with beleaguered arts organizations whose donations are shrinking at an alarming rate, and pretty soon you have no revenue at all. Not if you want to stay in business during Great Depression II which is now upon us no matter what anyone says.
Those dailies who established an online service early on in this debacle may have a chance, although we don't know of a single one that is actually generating profitability via its website alone.
Essentially, we're dealing with arrogant dinosaurs which, after years of serving as condescending gatekeepers of the news (conservatives and American patriots need not apply) now wonder where all their readers and advertisers have gone. Serves 'em right.
My schadenfreude here is tempered by the fact that I still write for a dead-tree newspaper, so my days as an ink- or electron-stained wretch are probably limited at this point. But still, when leftist editors and writers demean their profession by claiming the propaganda they write for a single political party is "objective reporting," they lack credibility to say the least. And when you damage the quality of your product, no matter what it is, people will always go somewhere else. And the advertisers will follow.
The print media has sneered at America's middle class--the bulk of its readership--for years. They're now being rewarded for it as their product becomes easily expendible in a severe economic crunch. It's the end of an era. And I'll mourn it when it's gone. I delivered the damn papers when I was a kid, and have written for them as an adult.
But I'll tell you what. I won't shed a single tear for the hypocritical clowns who destroyed the news media. Freedom of information--accurate information--has been what's always made America different, no, better than other countries and certainly freer. Marxist editors and faux Marxist millionaire media owners, basking and preening in the admiration of their peers, forgot their audience, forgot their mission, forgot their country, and forgot their place in the pecking order--news REPORTERS not news makers. So now, they are finding they have no place at all. It's the well-deserved fate of useful idiots.