Apr 21, 2009

In search of authority

Writing in the American Spectator, James Srodes, former Washington bureau chief for Forbes, says good riddance to newspapers, "an industry that has outdone Detroit in wasting its franchise". He says journalism got taken over by "cretins" who thought they were manufacturing a product and forgot they were providing a service.

Srodes writes:
In manufacturing, say widgets, if you can make the same number of widgets with fewer workers and a leaner mix of raw materials the productivity gain will translate into expanded profits. But if one starts watering down a service with fewer providers, with stingier resources, and empty information calories instead of the news nourishment consumers want, well then one deserves what one gets.

So when once-great newspapers (and I count the Washington Post among them) systematically empty their newsroom of truly first-class news gatherers, and when the product that results is the work of lower-wage naifs who lack sources and perspective, who confuse skepticism with partisanship, who substitute snark for insight, then what in the pluperfect hell does management expect to happen? Why should advertisers spend their dollars pitching to a room that is rapidly emptying of potential customers?

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