Friday, August 28, 2009

The Death of Newspapers--A Different Look


...when newspaper chains began cutting personnel and content, their industry was one of the most profitable yet discovered by Wall Street money. We know now - because bankruptcy has opened the books - that the Baltimore Sun was eliminating its afternoon edition and trimming nearly 100 editors and reporters in an era when the paper was achieving 37 percent profits. In the years before the Internet deluge, the men and women who might have made The Sun a more essential vehicle for news and commentary - something so strong that it might have charged for its product online - they were being ushered out the door so that Wall Street could command short-term profits in the extreme.

...In short, my industry butchered itself and we did so at the behest of Wall Street and the same unfettered, free-market logic that has proved so disastrous for so many American industries. And the original sin of American newspapering lies, indeed, in going to Wall Street in the first place.

When locally-based, family-owned newspapers like The Sun were consolidated into publicly-owned newspaper chains, an essential dynamic, an essential trust between journalism and the communities served by that journalism was betrayed...

Quoted in What I Saw

1 comment:

Jerome said...

A lot of corporate change in the last 30 years seems to be tied to the demand for high short-term profits for shareholders. No more investing for the long term, or being good citizens.

I'm not terribly up on the subject, but what sort of legal changes were made so that 1) long term planning was penalized and 2) holding stock short-term became the rage, rather than buying stocks for your retirement?