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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Why newspapers are dying?

The Chicago Sun-Times is the latest to go under the water, and I do not mean a Southern Baptist baptism:

Early motions approved in Sun-Times bankruptcy

By RANDALL CHASE – 22 hours ago

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Lawyers for the Sun-Times Media Group Inc. said Wednesday the company's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing could result in either a restructuring or a sale.

The owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, which filed its petition on Tuesday, listing $479 million in assets and $801 million in debt, is the fifth newspaper publisher to seek bankruptcy protection in recent months.

On Wednesday, Judge Christopher Sontchi approved first-day motions in the case, allowing the company to pay employees and vendors, and to use its existing cash management system.
And here columnists Floyd and Mary Beth Brown attempt to cope with the death of newspapers, assigning blame:

We think the newspaper's killer is more profound and not only the result of technology changes. A politically correct and liberal-biased newspaper industry that engages in censorship is the real reason for the industry's woes and decline. Many so-called "mainstream" newspapers are biased in favor of political liberalism, thus driving those who want a more complete reporting of the news to the Internet.
I dispute this diagnosis.

Many people hardly notice the slant of news any more. Perhaps they should, but that is another matter. Most people in Canada have listened to socialist-slanted news for decades and paid no attention to the slant, whether they support it or not. They just accept that socialism is how news will always slant, and we must accept it. But so?

In my own view, the critical thing to see is that modern news gathering methods do not offer a special advantage to the professional, as opposed to the amateur. Not when you can video record on your private cell phone or buy a camcorder on your charge card and load up your results on YouTube.

It's a different world now. That's just a fact. ...

Of course, some people are amateurs in their approach to news gathering. But that's always been true - and some apparent amateurs have enjoyed vast cred and six-figure jobs.

Example: Dan Rather should have realized that in a hard-fought election campaign, the bait he was offered in 2004 - that George W. Bush was supposedly a bad pilot in the US Air Force in the early 1970s - was just too easy.

Someone would likely have snaffled that treat in the previous election cycle - 2000, not 2004 - if it had been any good.

So Bush may not have been a good president - well, people will debate that for decades. But he was apparently a good pilot. He flew planes, and didn't crash them. And if you are a pilot, what else matters?

What's really happening seems fairly obvious to me: There is no longer a system that controls who can enter the news gathering profession.

So people who want to be in this field must learn to live with that fact. And justify why we should be paid for our work while others do it only for glory or for advancement in some other career or for getting up other people's noses ...

I think that a case can certainly be made for professionalism. But it must be made with the full awareness that there are many talented amateurs out there.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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