Making innovate and profit for survive journalism

When readership began dropping among younger demographics, they didn’t innovate. When new media technologies began emerging in the early ’90s, they didn’t innovate. When Craigslist began eating their lunch and fucking their trophy wives on the dinner table, they didn’t innovate – not unless “hey, if we fired all the employees, we’d theoretically be infinitely profitable” counts as innovation.

But now, now they’re innovating. Like lemmings on rocket skates they’re innovating. Check out the brains on these geniuses, would ya?

The newspaper business is not only crumpling up, James Macpherson informed me here, it is probably holding “a one-way ticket to Bangalore.”

Macpherson — bow-tied and white-haired but boyish-looking at 53 — should know. He pioneered “glocal” news — outsourcing Pasadena coverage to India at Pasadena Now, his daily online “newspaperless,” as he likes to call it. Indians are writing about everything from the Pasadena Christmas tree-lighting ceremony to kitchen remodeling to city debates about eliminating plastic shopping bags.

“Everyone has to get ready for what’s inevitable — like King Canute and the tide coming in — and that’s really my message to the industry,” the editor and publisher said. “Many newspapers are dead men walking. They’re going to be replaced by smaller, nimbler, multiple Internet-centric kinds of things such as what I’m pioneering.”

…“In brutal terms,” said Macpherson, whose father was a typesetter, printer and photographer, “it’s going to get to the point where saving the industry may require some people losing their jobs. The newspaper industry is coming to a General Motors moment — except there’s no one to bail them out.” He said it would be “irresponsible” for newspapers not to explore offshoring options.

Wow – this is just crazy. Bonkers. Wacked. I mean, how much crack/angel dust/moose tranquilizer cocktail do you have inject directly into your eyeballs to even think about assigning the local school board meeting to somebody who’s not only from Bangalore, he’s actually in Banglaore?

Nah. Must be some kind of joke – nobody’s that addled.

But then in October, Dean Singleton, The Associated Press’s chairman and the head of the MediaNews Group — which counts The Pasadena Star-News, The Denver Post and The Detroit News in its stable of 54 daily newspapers — told the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association that his company was looking into outsourcing almost every aspect of publishing, including possibly having one news desk for all of his papers, “maybe even offshore.”

Well, hell. I guess you gotta try something, right? I mean, firing all the reporters didn’t improve the quality of the news, nor did dumping all the remaining budget into snappy marketing campaigns.

Einstein did say that madness was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. And you can’t really argue with Einstein.

Still, I’ve had dealings with Bangalore. Your mileage may vary, but my experiences have not been wholly satisfying (although, in fairness, I should note that some of those experiences were Microsoft-related). I’m not even going to insult your intelligence by explaining how a good reporter needs a grasp of context and a feel for the lay of the land blah blah blah. I would explain all that if this had anything at all to do with “good reporter.” No, I think this must have been what a certain great American who professed a tremendous respect for the importance of a free and independent press meant by “self-evident truth.”

My colleague, Dr. Denny, has written elegantly about the news industry’s death spiral, and I won’t dilute the quality of his commentary by trying to add to it. I’ll only say this. A good many talented reporters have lost their jobs to every manner of stupidity that a legion of slack-jawed corporate executives could think up, and now it seems that the few remaining jobs are about to be offshored. I feel deeply for these soon-to-be-remaindered individuals and their families. If I could stop giggling for a few moments I’m sure I’d feel despair for what’s left of this once-great Republic.

As for the Singletons and MacPhersons of the world, I look forward to reading the penetrating investigative exposé that some intrepid Bangalorian reporter pens on the tragic plight of destitute, homeless former newspaper innovators living under bridges in Denver and Pasadena.

5 replies »

  1. I’m enjoying watching Singleton shoot his own balls off, absolutely. But I hardly revel in all the ensuing unemployment.

    And I’m sure that an America without journalism will keep me well-stocked with things to write about, so that’s a plus….

  2. t seems like there are some things you just can’t cover from halfway around the world. That makes me shudder, then, when I think of the old news truism “The news is what I say it is,” because if there are things that can’t be covered from halfway around the world, they won’t get covered—and thus, it won’t be news. And many news consumers would be none the wiser.

    This might be the ultimate abdication of public service mission in favor of profits.

  3. There’s a great way to fight the offshoring that Microsoft has done: use open source software. I dumped Windows off my computers over two years ago and have never looked back. Take that publication, Gates!