Friday, January 01, 2010

Washington Times: RIP?

I've resisted blogging about this for many months. But now there seems to be little reason to hold back.

Since circa September 2009, it's been an open secret, at least in Washington DC, that the Washington Times, probably the last reliable bastion of conservative news reporting left in print media, has been in something of a death spiral, business-wise. It's unfortunate that the public has learned details of the ongoing crisis piecemeal largely via Howard Kurtz--media columnist at the Washington Post--and via  left-wing web sites such as Politico (and also here), Wonkette, Huffingtonpost, etc. (MediaBistro and its associated FishbowlDC (on the sad exit of sprightly gossip girlz Green and Glover) have also done a great job providing snippets of news when they can dig them up.)

Specifics on who's left at the Washington Times and what's going to happen next are hard to come by. But a mass layoff was apparently concluded, effective as of the stroke of midnight, December 31, 2009, and affecting 40% or more of a staff already thinned by earlier layoffs that occurred in the spring of 2008.

Sadly, in this country's overly-regulated corporate culture, layoffs at almost any company of size need to operate under a CIA-like veil of secrecy due to a legal thicket of HR rules. (I've been through this scenario several times before in my own long and strange career trajectory.) The Times has been no exception to the rule in this regard, notwithstanding the countless uninformed and snarky comments on this in the left-wing blogosphere.

As the paper's longtime classical music critic (since 1994), I find the Times' apparent implosion heartbreaking. It was one of the last places left where you could find a news approach that had nothing to do with the teachings of Antonio Gramsci and Saul Alinsky (mentor of our current president). I'm not sure what product or products will be launched out of 3600 New York Ave. NE on Monday morning. But I wish the remaining staffers over there the best of luck. The economy is tough these days, but the news biz, or what's left of it across the country, is even tougher.

More on this as events warrant.

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