The new news: lean, multiplatform, creative? Is less now more?

Editor & Publisher reported this today:

The San Diego Union-Tribune laid off more than 30 staffers on Thursday in what Editor Jeff Light called in an editor’s note an effort to build “a lean, creative, multi-platform team that can lead the industry.” [emphasis added]

E&P reports that this is the U-T’s seventh round of staff cuts since 2006.

In April 2008, when The Seattle Times cut 200 people, its publisher said: “Strategic and thoughtful changes to the way we do business will allow us to be positioned for the future.” [emphasis added]

When The New York Times cut 100 jobs in 2009 (after whacking 100 jobs in 2008), its executive editor said:

These latest cuts will still leave us with the largest, strongest and most ambitious editorial staff of any newsroom in the country, if not the world. … I believe we can weather these cuts without seriously compromising our commitment to coverage of the region, the country and the world. We will remain the single best news organization on earth. [emphasis added]

Why is that the MBA-driven leadership of the newspaper industry, after cutting 35,000 mostly newsroom jobs between October 2007 and June 2010, continues to insist that the future (for whom?) is bright, and news (about what?) will multimedia its way to us day after day, quantity and quality unaffected?

There are words for that kind of image-driven happy talk: Reality challenged. Misrepresentation. Delusion. Outright lies. And, of course, bullshit.
Continue reading

The last victim of the Rape of Nanjing

I’m in Nanjing because of Iris Chang.

In fact, like many Americans, the only reason I’ve ever even heard of Nanjing is because of Iris Chang.

Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking had a profound effect on me when I read it a couple years ago. Ever since, I’ve wanted to visit the city, to walk the ground, to hear the whispered cries of the war-dead who’d been so long forgotten until Chang finally wrote their story. She wanted to make sure no one ever forgot that story—ever.

It was December, 1937. Continue reading

You chose it, your politicians arranged it and businesses delivered it. Who's responsible again?

On 31 May 2005, the US Supreme Court overturned accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s conviction for obstruction of justice.  It would be a pyrrhic victory as, by then, a company which once employed 85,000 people around the world had been reduced to penury.

The rush for victim’s justice in the aftermath of the Enron fraud scandal led to the deliberate instruction of the Texas District Court that the jury find Arthur Andersen, Enron’s auditors, guilty “even if petitioner honestly and sincerely believed its conduct was lawful.”

Then Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated in his opinion for the Supreme Court:  “The jury instructions at issue simply failed to convey the requisite consciousness of wrongdoing. … Indeed, it is striking how little culpability the instructions required. … Only persons conscious of wrongdoing can be said to ‘knowingly corruptly persuade’.” Continue reading