Six Weeks

According to David Brauer, the Strib’s management is counting down to bankruptcy – or at least that’s what they’re telling their unions:

Publisher Chris Harte, who sent what I’m now calling the “six weeks to bankruptcy” memo Tuesday afternoon, wasn’t at a meeting Royce and other Guild leaders shortly before the communication was released. Instead, the Guild types found representatives of the Blackstone Group — the Strib’s “restructuring consultant” — and “a couple, three lawyers,” Royce says.Management, which seeks $20 million in cuts from the Strib’s unions, met its major locals separately. I asked Royce if he received the newsroom’s expected share; he declined to comment.

The question for readers, of course, is how many journalists will be left after the wreckage clears.

(Sarcasm on)  “No, David: the real question is how many journalists are there now, and if having more actual journalism and less strident agenda-flogging might have helped the paper out (/sarcasm off).

No, I suspect that even a paper that had spent decades building a reputation for rigorously balancing points of view would be having trouble today.  An interesting question might be “would a paper with a reputation for meticulous balance, or an out-and-out conservative paper, be in this kind of trouble today”?

Of course, there are painfully few examples of either.  The Wall Street Journal is mistakenly considered “conservative” (their columnists are, but their news coverage is all over the place), and they seem to be holding their own, more or less, but then their market is a lot more specialized.


7 thoughts on “Six Weeks

  1. Any organization worth its bottom line would have been going to people who had recently dropped the paper and asking why. I think they would have their answer.

    I know I wrote them a nice letter when I dropped them, explaining that I could no longer afford the hours it was taking every day to read past all the errors in spelling and grammar, as well as blatant bias. I never even got a reply.

  2. Heh. You missed the best Brauer quote this year, Mitch.

    Yesterday’s breathless announcement that 217 votes had been “found” which yeilded a net 30 something votes to Porn-O-Rama included this classic disclosure:

    “”It also pushs [sic] the total ballots cast above the number of voters, which is not good.”

    HAHAHA! This fellow is pure gold, I’m tellin’ ya.

    It’s too late to go back and feast your eyes on the original because, according to Brauer “This story changed so much during the day I’ve rewritten it to include the newest info. The cross-outs from earlier updates [and that sentence] have been removed.”…yeah, and he pulled his pants back up.

  3. I agree with J on the issue of responsiveness to customers.

    Back when I was a kid, I learned to read and enjoyed the Strib. So I was looking forward to reading it again when I moved back here 20 years later, and I actually subscribed.

    I didn’t make it through 3 months of the subscription before I canceled. I came from the land of True Blue and was used to ideologically biased news reporting, but even the Burlington Free Press wasn’t as bad as the Strib. The Strib was shriekingly blindered and incompetent at basic reporting.

    They actually asked me why when I called to cancel my subscription. When I pointed out how badly they mangled their coverage of news events, the response was “But we have a great sports section!” Oh, a sports section that refuses to call teams by their names?

    I agree with Lileks that the killer application for newspapers is local news, but with the caveat that it has to be hard news. The problem is that we have a couple of generations of reporters who have gone into journalism “to make a difference” in pursuit of some political ideology rather than reporting actual news.

  4. Recently received a flyer in the mail asking for my subscription. I thought it sad. I grew up reading that paper but as I came of age and began looking at the world around me I saw no reflection of it in their pages. When I dropped my subscription 10 years ago I cited the fact that one of their reporters, Dane Smith, was so out of the box liberal that I couldn’t offer one penny to his pension fund.

    I wait anxiously for their bankruptcy notice. They have earned it. From their ashes maybe something resembling actual journalism will arise. I doubt it, but perhaps a new managment group will decide to change direction and actually offer divergent opinions in their pages.

    Hopefully, all of the existing regime will be selling time share condos.

  5. I actually subscribed last week. The coverage has been less biased.

    My family owns newspapers. I grew up with my father, uncle and grandfather working in newspapers, and my father and brother still do. Bad as it is, I hate to see the Strib die.

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