The “journalism’s crisis = democracy’s crisis” narrative continues — and it’s not working.

When I wrote OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism, I discussed how the Fox News Channel used memos to keep ideological consistency in their stories. The documentary by the name same that came out before it, had originally exposed John Moody’s now notorious memos.

Those memos were not just part of the FNC ideological narrative — they were the way journalists walked lockstep to build a wall of defence to prevent anyone from challenge their conclusions when their facts were wanting.

That lockstep is now continuing across the entire profession with a false narrative that a crisis in journalism means a crisis in democracy.

The Los Angeles Times is the latest copycat trying to scare people into coming back.

The headline itself is pure propaganda:

The staggering body count as California newspapers founder, and democracy loses

No, the bombing in Syria has left a body count — what you have is journalists losing their jobs because of their own inability to keep up with the times and change gears. Do not play manipulative games with your bloated egos.

Democracy transmuted with the onset of the Internet — something that journalists to this day cannot grasp. They do not understand that democracy is strong enough to go on without them.

Society has informational resources and venues to speak out. Journalists had the monopoly on both, and now they don’t. If they wanted to stay viable, they should have faced that reality, and done something about it — they had that opportunity, but they thought they didn’t need to take it. That isn’t the public problem.

Journalists want everyone else to accommodate them — and that’s not going to happen.

So this fear-mongering temper tantrum has to stop.

It won’t, but it won’t do the dead industry any good.

People left for a reason. They wouldn’t have if journalism gave them what they needed. It didn’t, and it hasn’t.

If you want to connect to the public, then don’t have a chip on your shoulder. Otherwise, get your walking papers can get out of the way…

 

Memo to the Orange County Register: You cannot guilt, shame, or frighten people into buying a newspaper.

The Orange County Register is trying the propaganda route into saving a dead profession.

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The whole “democracy is at risk” tantrum isn’t actually true. Democracy is thriving online through social media.

Journalism was supplanted by a superior model, and that’s a reality journalists have to accept once and for all.

Yes, news isn’t free, and is expensive to churn out, but you cannot bully people into buying your product.

Yes, the business model is broken, but that’s not the fault of citizens. When you stubbornly refused to change in a changing landscape, that’s what happens.

You had journalists like me sound the alarm about twenty years ago, and I was ignored. This collapse was more than just obvious way back then, it was entirely avoidable.

Journalism had to make a series of adjustments to take into account the Internet’s effect on the world: the business model was one, but the mandate, and methods were more important to tackle.

Once upon a time, if I wanted to be heard by a mass audience, I had to be dependent on journalists to give me legitimacy.

Now, I can write on my blog, go on Facebook, or Twitter, to achieve the same ends.

Journalists should have completely reinvented themselves to make themselves relevant. They had the money to do so. They had universities to act as their own laboratory.

None of that ever happened.

And now the profession is dead, and while you have people who are trying to co-opt the profession, they are doing nothing different, and are doomed to fail because they do not see the obvious.

We have a void in an Age of Propaganda — it will take more than whining in a column to change a thing…

The new beggars: How journalists try to exploit their own incompetence.

If you look at many journalism sites and their various barnacles known as “organizations”, you will see a lot of begging for money.

A lot.

Not just obnoxiously begging for money, but a manipulative little sob story how giving your money is absolutely essential for democracy to survive.

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And if it isn’t begging for donations, it is a demand and threat to subscribe.

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This is a gambit: if they cannot get funding through advertising and people wanting to subscribe, then instead of making the necessary changes, passively take out your tin can and howl for cash.

And despite the circulation and viewership declines, the profession thinks a non-profit model will save them.

The New York Times certainly thinks so, making it a habit of musing about it here about the Guardian, openly cheerleading it here, and now doing free advertising for Report for America here.

These methods aren’t working because the same corrupt elements are at play. The non-profit is a retreat strategy: they want to do the same thing, but trying to spin the optics to make it seem they are some sort of noble civil servants, and not broke and inept blowhards who still do not see what they have done to the profession.

It is obvious that this is a ruse to exploit their own incompetence into something noble, but to a dead profession, they will play any trick to pretend an archaic system to information corruption can be brought back to life…

Seattle Post-Intelligencer to cut one third of editorial jobs because, you know, it’s journalism.

And no, it is not the same owners of the Denver Post, and no, it’s not the stupidly named Tronc.

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It’s a Hearst property, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is blood-letting.

It isn’t even a shadow of its former self.

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It was once a very good newspaper, and one I used to read voraciously when I got my hands on it before the Internet made the hunt unnecessary.

It also had its entire archives online for free at one point, and when I was writing my first book, I used those archives a lot for research on hoaxes making news in addition to my local library’s online databases (which have been gutted since then), as well as many paid databases, but it was the P-I that made my research much, much easier back then as I needed to refer to thousands of articles to do my book justice.

The P-I’s fortunes shattered, however, and now we are seeing how badly journalism collapsed. You may have knuckleheads in the profession in denial that their profession is dead, but one look at the P-I’s fortunes, and the reality of the situation is obvious…

Tronc cuts jobs because, you know, it’s journalism.

Tronc is letting go dozens of people.

Contrary to the Denver Post narrative, journalism is in deep trouble.

As in, dead.

Is this surprising? Not at all.

Contrary to conspiracy theories, the profession is crashing, and not as profitable as its minions thinks it is. What they do not get is that unless the owners push out staff, there is no profit. It is contingent on it, and implying that these owners can afford to keep workers misses the point of the strategy.

When I used to cover the business of journalism, newspapers were being bought and sold at inflated prices, even though ad revenue was eroding as was circulation. What owners did then — as they are doing now — is squeeze assets out before selling it.

It is not a real business model that has the long-term in mind. It is like flipping a house — you buy some shack at a decent price, slap some paint and cheap laminate flooring, and then sell it at a mark up price. You are squeezing the assets out of the structure with no regard to the actual house itself.

You aren’t living in the house, or making long-range plans. You aren’t investing in that house or ensuring it stays strong and durable. You do not have the future at heart or in mind.

The problem is that you have potential owners have a look, and the ones that once would have been the ones you ran a business with the future in mind saw there was clearly no future, and bolted.

What you have left are the newspaper-flippers. The smash-and-grab mentality has been plaguing the industry for as long as I can remember. If there was something of value being produced, the industry would attract a different sort of owner.

It is a serious problem that brought journalism the seeds of their destruction. It is not a visionary’s playground anymore, and without one, the industry became orphaned and thrown from orphanage to orphanage, becoming unloved and discarded.

The non-profit model is worse. You have pretentious partisans beg for money, and whiff of desperation is a turn-off with nothing to offer, including innovation.

Both models are prolonging the agony and preventing alternatives from taking root and grow, and it’s leaving a black hole on information in an era where we need sensibility and clarity to bring us back to our sense…

Memo to the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News: Who pays for journalism? People who actually want it. You are not a public service, but a business. Now stop using your newspaper to lobby for free money.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News is doing what many Canadian newspapers are doing: being unethical and deceptive in misusing their product to lobbying for welfare money.

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The latest attempt is probably the worst offender of the Fear and Pity campaign.

The headline says just where this little piece of propaganda is going:

Opinion: Who pays for journalism? One way or another — you

How to help support Canadian media and local news.

No, it’s not “one way or another.” It’s just one way: if people want your little newspaper, they will pay for it voluntarily. If your product is deficient, they will not buy it, and if enough people do not buy it, you go out of business, just like Zellers folded as well as local restaurants do when not enough people like their food.

Eating food is more vital than reading the wire stories on Kardashians, and we do not have government programs to prop up money-losing diners.

So let’s get that out of the way first.

Not only is the newspaper not the forum to personally benefit from your pleas, but the entire premise of this column’s tripe rests on the fact that people should be forced to support a deficient product.

The author of this drivel mentions that equally flawed Shattered Mirror: a pseudo-policy paper that makes the very convenient car that the federal government should be sugar daddies to newspapers.

If you have alienated readers, that is your fat. Not the fault of the taxpayer. They do not have to bail you out.

If they want your product, they knew where to get it.

And so bad is this product, people do not want it even if it is free.

You are not owed a newspaper. You are a business, not a public service.

And you cannot be a public service because then you are an arm for a governing regime, making you nothing more than a public relations firm for the Establishment.

You had your chance. You didn’t make changes. You failed. The end.

Yes, we need facts, but not from the likes of you who thinks nothing of misusing a newspaper to beg for money. It is akin for an unpopular prime minister to beg for taxpayers to fund his reelection campaign because he cannot get enough donations to stay in the game.

You don’t do that.

And the fact that you are doing that proves exactly why journalism is no longer a thing…

CTV Vancouver fires their news anchors. Cue in the younger models…

Mike Killeen and Tamara Taggart are out at CTV Vancouver.

It is unusual for a network to just oust an anchor team without the heir apparent already lined up, but Vancouver, like other Canadian cities, have seen its media get pummelled.

They’ve been at the helm since 2011. Unceremoniously dumping the old guard usually brings in temporary ill-will with viewers, but with television, attention spans are very short.

Their replacements will be younger — and a lot cheaper to keep in place. I also suspect a more casual structure that is less authoritative (read: more replaceable; ergo, cannot make big salary demands because they are the draw).

The problem is that old guard aren’t retaining audiences anymore. But the bigger problem is that young and diverse faces aren’t stopping the erosion, either. It is the latter shift that is puzzling on the surface, but the when you have an antiquated structure and inadequate methods: it doesn’t matter who is the face of the story: if their methods are deficient, there is no connect or trust. You can have a radical change on the surface, but still make no change at the core.

And nothing has changed. No innovation or true changes, and when you do not change, you are doomed to first stagnate before you decay into oblivion…

Denver Post is begging alienated readers to save them from themselves. You collapsed for a reason.

The Denver Post is begging to be saved by the very readers they turned off over the years, even going so far as using phrases such as “as vultures circle.”

Many people you slammed in your pages think the same way of you.

People stopped reading your paper for a reason. It has nothing to do with Trump or Facebook or Russia. It has to do with treating those readers with contempt while never improving your product in a way that connects to readers.

Newspapers ignored youth for decades, assuming they don’t read. They ignored women and people who were not born white. Poor people were beneath them, too.

You let it slide for this long, and now you think of wanting to be saved?

You should have thought about it long before that.

We need facts, absolutely. We need information, not narrative. We needed to know all sorts of things, but got Kardashian backsides and the romantic life of celebrities.

It curried favour with tyrants. It turned grifters into Great Men. People couldn’t make ends meet — if they had information they could use — they could begin to turn their fortunes around.

That’s what happened. People became disillusioned, and then walked away.

We need to be informed, but the Post is not going to do it. It is too busy lobbying to see what went wrong.

But it doesn’t mean it cannot be replaced with something new — and something that has respect for readers, and not issue orders to them demanding for them to save them…

Chicago Tribune’s implosion continues: “Quick Response Team”? Are you people out of your minds?

I remember when the Chicago Tribune was a serious and real newspaper. I remember scouring for it on specialty newsstands in Canada and grabbing a copy whenever I visited the Windy City, which, truth be told, is one of my favourite cities in the world, and yes, I have no trouble walking down the streets after midnight for a stroll down Michigan Avenue or Wabash Avenue with no worries. Even though I am an author and art teacher, people used to think I had to be some sort of plain clothes police officer, and told me as much.

But watching the Tribune collapse is distressing. The newsroom is being decimated, and instead of doing real things, the double-speaking in this same newsroom explains exactly why the Tribune collapsed this horrifically.

Publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold has to have broken some record on spewing meaningless and empty phrases, and in a profession that is supposed to expose that kind of babble-spew to find out what is reality and truth, it should surprise no one why the Tribune weakened the way it has:

This process has fostered hundreds of productive conversations about our future…We understand it has also led to feelings of uncertainty.

“Productive conversations”? If the collapse of journalism happened, there was no productive conversation. It’s like the kid in the toy store wanting a present, and cash-strap mom says, “Put it on your list to Santa, buddy.” You could call that a “productive conversation,” but the kid is not going to get anything at all.

But Dold keeps the empty phrases rolling:

We are and will continue to be the most accomplished and impactful news organization in Chicago. We are and will continue to be a mission-driven and audience-driven news organization. We will shape the future of the Chicago Tribune together.

How is that possible when circulation is declining and people are losing their jobs? If you were an “audience-driven” news organization, your audiences wouldn’t be abandoning your product. Nice try.

And instead of pandering, how about trying to be a “fact-driven” media outlet?

But the doublespeak never ends with the window-dressing:

Scott Powers will continue to be a vital part of the leadership team as deputy editor overseeing the entertainment group.
 
Jonathon Berlin will lead our team focused on digital design and data visualization as the director of content, interactive news design. This team, in addition to creating engaging interactive elements and compelling digital designs, will work closely with the home page team on the Arc rollout.

Who talks like that?

The ad copy parading as a memo goes on in painful vague detail:

Dan Haar and Matt O’Connor will lead a team that covers criminal justice around the clock with breaking-news speed, with a focus on public safety issues that have a profound impact on our quality of life. This desk will continue to report on the reform of the Chicago Police Department, an area in which this newsroom has been a leader.
 
Our watchdog team will expand as the Public Interest Investigations group under George Papajohn and Kaarin Tisue. Eric Krol, a talented editor and wordsmith who has grown adept at running investigative stories, will join this team.

But the best drivel comes here:

Lisa Donovan and Liam Ford will lead a new Quick Response Team, which will pursue with vigor the emerging story or stories of the day. The Quick Response Team will primarily focus on non-crime topics.
 

“Quick Response Team”? What are you? Paramedics? Emergency room doctors? Police officers? Soldiers? SWAT? Suicide prevention workers? No, you’re pretending to be journalists: you are supposed to cover breaking news. This isn’t supposed to be a bureaucracy.

No wonder the Tribune became a shadow of its former self. It became the grifters they were supposed to expose.

The core doesn’t change. The methods don’t change. What changes are a few titles with a smaller staff to boss around. This is why journalism is no longer a thing — because the people in charge have no idea why they are there — or what the hell they are doing…

The Fear and Pity Brigade strike again: Journalism had its chance. It blew it. It is time for the alternative.

I like Fergus, Ontario. It is a charming little town in Ontario has a nifty little tea house.

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But its local paper is another matter.

The publisher of the Wellington Advertiser is appropriately named — in this sales pitch trying to convince people who aren’t buying the newspaper to support having their tax dollars  in supporting the newspaper they are not reading:

In a recent survey of Advertiser readers, 60 per cent of respondents answered no when asked whether or not government should subsidize newspapers.

The result of the survey was not really a surprise considering Wellington County has a fairly conservative readership that still believes in self-reliance rather than government handouts.

But now here is the sales pitch why people should pay for something that they do not want:

[J]ournalism is truly in a perilous position, as is democracy.

News this past week that tech giant Facebook has been used and manipulated to have an effect on elections comes as no real surprise. That people are catching on is good news, with recent polls suggesting over half of citizens don’t trust Facebook.

Readers of this advertorial are also being manipulated with this dreck. The self-entitledness shows loud and clear here:

The time is long overdue for the federal and provincial governments to institute polices that would insist on advertising in newspapers owned by Canadians. Currently millions are spent with Google and Facebook with no tax benefit to the government. Those millions were bled in part from the newspaper businesses currently under stress.

Nannying once again as restrictions would be placed on individuals an businesses to force them to advertise on platforms that give them lesser returns. This idea is an absolute outrage. It is not Facebook or Google’s fault that Canada never created their own Facebook and Google.

As usual, legacy journalism is short-sighted: businesses have the right to advertise in whatever outlet brings them the biggest returns, and considering the Internet is global in scale, they are going to use global platforms to build their businesses. Yes, let’s rig things to benefit traditional media because they believe they are owed. 

But then the hilarity arrives:

The practice of stealing news online should also be halted. It is akin to shoplifting at a menswear store with the intent of getting inventory to start a new menswear store down the street.

The theft of news is not fair and original works should be subject to strict copyright laws to ensure the publisher and journalist involved get credit – and remuneration – for their work.

Theft of news? You mean cribbing news articles that crib from press releases? News is about information to be disseminated. With attribution of the original source, it is not theft, though journalists have been been known to plagiarize and steal ideas outright themselves.

It is yet another sales pitch in the Fear and Pity campaign. Never learning from past mistakes, or looking inward: it is someone else’s fault: so people should just be forced to go back to the good old days where they had no power, and journalism had complete control over the information stream.

It’s not happening. Change happened, and there is no going back…