The Newspaper Editor Bubble

The editors of most of California's metro newspapers will gather in Santa Barbara next month to have a few drinks and compare notes. They will wring their hands wondering why their readers are fleeing. They will show each other the beautiful new products they've developed and the other—than—English material that they produce in an effort to retain subscribers.

 

They will discuss in serious tones the threat from the liars on talk radio and the amateurs on the blogosphere.

 

I could offer them some advice, but I have not been invited. Although I am a former colleague and remain friends with some of those in attendance, I don't qualify for membership.

 

Because I am a former insider who questions their liberal leanings, the editors gathering in Santa Barbara have a lot of elitist disdain for me. My best friend in newspapering, who runs a good—sized daily newspaper, calls me a right—wing nut to my face.

 

A former colleague told a group of Rotarians that I'm a provacatuer because I told those in attendance that his newspaper was going to endorse Kerry before the newspaper's editorial board had gathered to decide to endorse, ta da, John Kerry.

 

My other newspaper friends wonder how I have drifted so far out of the mainstream. Of course I don't believe they are in the mainstream. They honestly believe they cut it right down the center. When I explain that they cut it right down the center of a far—left pie I hear the tired mantra of 'I catch hell from both sides so I must be doing something right.' Actually, I would say that means you are doing nothing right, but again, I'm a right—wing bomb—thrower so what do I know?

 

When we gather for our annual fishing—golfing—gambling trip they stress that I am not allowed to talk politics. That's because they answer every question with 'Bush is a lying frat boy.' How can they make daily decisions about what to present to their readers when they're making those decisions from that perspective, I wonder? I have yet to receive an answer.

 

So, even though I have not been invited, here is what I offer my former colleagues. Do you really want to win back your former readers and create new ones? If so, improve your core product and quit venturing off into 'new media.' All of those glitzy magazines, Spanish—language newspapers and hot web sites are awesome but they don't do a damned thing for your newspaper and its shrinking readership.

 

Quit trying to impress each other and try to impress your readers. Just as Hollywood types make movies to impress other movie—makers and are bleeding massive quantities of dollars for doing it, journalists write for each other and are bleeding massive quantities of dollars because of it.

 

Quit being so 'effing arrogant. You sit in your news budget meetings deciding what we 'need' to read, not what we 'want' to read. Remember, you're not here to change the world but to report on events happening in it. And when you do report what happened, quit trying to promote your liberal agenda (My own daily is on a clean—air crusade and wastes valuable A—1 space telling me that yesterday was a 'no—burn' day).

 

You've neglected your readers for 20 years. It's no wonder they want a divorce. It's time to get down on your knees, apologize and promise to change.

The editors of most of California's metro newspapers will gather in Santa Barbara next month to have a few drinks and compare notes. They will wring their hands wondering why their readers are fleeing. They will show each other the beautiful new products they've developed and the other—than—English material that they produce in an effort to retain subscribers.

 

They will discuss in serious tones the threat from the liars on talk radio and the amateurs on the blogosphere.

 

I could offer them some advice, but I have not been invited. Although I am a former colleague and remain friends with some of those in attendance, I don't qualify for membership.

 

Because I am a former insider who questions their liberal leanings, the editors gathering in Santa Barbara have a lot of elitist disdain for me. My best friend in newspapering, who runs a good—sized daily newspaper, calls me a right—wing nut to my face.

 

A former colleague told a group of Rotarians that I'm a provacatuer because I told those in attendance that his newspaper was going to endorse Kerry before the newspaper's editorial board had gathered to decide to endorse, ta da, John Kerry.

 

My other newspaper friends wonder how I have drifted so far out of the mainstream. Of course I don't believe they are in the mainstream. They honestly believe they cut it right down the center. When I explain that they cut it right down the center of a far—left pie I hear the tired mantra of 'I catch hell from both sides so I must be doing something right.' Actually, I would say that means you are doing nothing right, but again, I'm a right—wing bomb—thrower so what do I know?

 

When we gather for our annual fishing—golfing—gambling trip they stress that I am not allowed to talk politics. That's because they answer every question with 'Bush is a lying frat boy.' How can they make daily decisions about what to present to their readers when they're making those decisions from that perspective, I wonder? I have yet to receive an answer.

 

So, even though I have not been invited, here is what I offer my former colleagues. Do you really want to win back your former readers and create new ones? If so, improve your core product and quit venturing off into 'new media.' All of those glitzy magazines, Spanish—language newspapers and hot web sites are awesome but they don't do a damned thing for your newspaper and its shrinking readership.

 

Quit trying to impress each other and try to impress your readers. Just as Hollywood types make movies to impress other movie—makers and are bleeding massive quantities of dollars for doing it, journalists write for each other and are bleeding massive quantities of dollars because of it.

 

Quit being so 'effing arrogant. You sit in your news budget meetings deciding what we 'need' to read, not what we 'want' to read. Remember, you're not here to change the world but to report on events happening in it. And when you do report what happened, quit trying to promote your liberal agenda (My own daily is on a clean—air crusade and wastes valuable A—1 space telling me that yesterday was a 'no—burn' day).

 

You've neglected your readers for 20 years. It's no wonder they want a divorce. It's time to get down on your knees, apologize and promise to change.