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Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It Paperback – May 3, 2011
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"This collection highlights journalism's role as a crucial component of democracy and an institution that needs to be reinvigorated... anyone concerned about the state of journalism should read this book."
Bold, meditative, engrossing, this is an indispensable guide for followers of modern media.”
[I]nformative and concise A well-curated collection of essays on the decline of the newspaper industry and the future of journalism.”
About the Author
Victor Pickard is an assistant professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. His research on the politics and history of media has been published widely in anthologies and scholarly journals. He lives in New York City.
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This is a great book, overall, on what faces the journalism of the future - the very near future. That said, although this is a five-star book, overall, it does have a few weak spots. I'll list those after giving synopses of what some of the top authors in this collection of essays have to say about the future of journalism, primarily newspaper journalism, and how to address a tidal wave of both financial and editorial problems facing the newsrooms of today, let alone tomorrow.
Eric Alterman is good on noting how angel investors, foundations, etc. cann NOT be the answer on funding journalism, in part, because like worries about Wall Street's bottom line does today, over-dependence on one income source too much can lead to similar constraints.
Robert Starr says newspapers are needed, period. He notes other mass media do little original reporting, instead "developing" newspaper reporting.
John Simon insists that newspapers need to get with it on paywalls. He notes it's late in the game, but that "leeches" (he uses the word more than once) should be cut off, and that the online advertising bottom line will be hurt little if they stay away.
Todd Gitlin and others note that the Wall Street profit line fixation was leading to a meltdown of sorts before the recession. He and others mention an obvious villain, Sam Zell. Others, like Dean Singleton, with papers of various sizes, and CNHI with smaller papers, could also be cited. Ryan Blethein of Seattle newspaper family heritage, also decries the increasing consolidation and lack of local ownership and focus.
Gitlin also notes that the average viewership age for network national TV news is even higher than for newspaper readership. That shows, too, that the "crisis" is not just about newspapers.
Robert McChesney and John Nichols note that through postal subsidies and othr things, government financially supported papers here in the U.S. from the country's start. It's interesting, though they don't pursue this in that essay, that newspaper consolidation gained steam at about the same time the old Post Office became the Postal Service and quasi-privatized.
However, in a lightly regulated America of today, Yochai Benkler cautions that public-sector financial support for media could backfire, citing Clinton-era digital media and copyright laws that wound up helping big media/entertainment companies get even bigger in some ways.
Thomas Frank, among other things, eviscerates New Media fluffer Jay Rosen with an anecdote from when Rosen interviewed Roger Rosenblatt, CEO of New Media writing serf farm Demand Media (eHow and other sites).
And the hardest-hitting interrogation Rosen could do was ask, "If you love the Web, then why are you doing this, running these content farms?" And, Frank indirectly lets us understand that that attitude toward the financial side of how most New Media can't be financially supported well, unless run on a hypercapitalist model, and the refusal of Rosen, Clay Shirky, Jeff Jarvis and others to address this, is the problem with most New Media fluffers.
Speaking of, Shirky is the one outright New Media-ist represented here, with his essay on "transformations" and how nobody knows where they will land. That much is true, but not an idea unique to him. At the same time, Shirky, by inferring the printing press empowered the Reformation, which led to the Enlightenment, "elides" the history of the counter-Reformation, followed by religious wars that ended in the Thirty Years War.
One other person says "don't worry about these wrenching transformations." That would be Matt Welch, an editor at the strongly libertarian mag Reason, who offers the standard libertarian paeans to "the market."
Beyond the financial side, other writers here, whether touting things that new media properly can do, or simply why old media has lost trust, address issues of minorities in the media and so forth. All these, as America's minority population grows along with the growing income gap, lead to possible further credibility issues of "old media."
The essays, overall, by no means write a blank check to the editorial or financial issues/struggles of "old media." But, they, for the most part, don't write a blank check to the yet-nowhere-near-unfulfilled cornucopian promises of New Media fluffers, either. Amazon review to follow soon.
That said, what's lacking? A few things.
1. No author gets in depth into the AP-vs-member newspapers issue. It's been clear for more than a decade that the AP of today sees its primary customers as Google, MSNBC, etc., and NOT member newspapers, despite the large membership fees it charges member newspapers. Nor does any author discuss ways for papers to leverage this, such as playing Reuters and the AP off against one another.
2. Authors confine their discussion of "newspaper" to national and regional seven-day dailies. Six- and five-day dailies, and definitely nondailies, get left out of the discussion.
3. Discussion of whether NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting might be better of ditching federal funds gets no discussion.
I started to read this book, but when I read in the introduction about your desire to see the US government subsidize American newspapers, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. But I did know I had to get rid of this book ASAP and also write to you.
I have been a 9-11 truther since September 12, 2001, when the first reports of irregularities, anomalies, and other suspicious things started filtering in over the internet. And I am proud to say that I have learned more from judicious use of the internet over the past 11 years than in all the previous 40 years of my life combined!
I have also learned that the mass media obfuscates the truth and seems to serve more and more as an official propaganda arm of the US government. So perhaps your desire to see the taxpayers subsidize your sorry excuses for journalism is not so surprising after all.
That would be the ultimate screw job on the American public, wouldn't it: forcing us to pay to read the lies spewed out by you presstitutes of the whoreporate mess media! Hah. You must not only think we're stupid but hate us enough to pay to be f----d by the thought controllers!
Well, at least you're honestly brazen. Maybe you will take time to read the following true life stories about why I hate the American mess media and hope and pray for its early demise.
1. On a flight from NYC to Portland, Oregon, in December 2005, I was sitting next to two radio news reporters heading out to a convention in Las Vegas. I had just returned to the States after many years overseas, and I was eager to talk with people in the media about what I had been learning on the internet about 9-11. I told these two female reporters that my mother grew up in NYC and always told me that New Yorkers are the smartest people in the world. But judging from how the New York mess media rolled over and played dead about investigating the truth of 9-11, I had to say that New Yorkers are about the dumbest people on God's green earth. The two ladies just glared at me but said nothing of value, as per their usual MO.
2. In August 2006, during the media circus surrounding the arrest of John Mark Carr in Boulder, CO, I circulated among the many members of the press and TV distributing a flyer about 9-11 truth. On the third day, a FOX news cameraman took me aside and said: "Son, you're wasting your time." Not sure his intent, I asked him why, and he told me "Everyone in the media knows that the official report about 9-11 is a whitewashed load of crap, but the news executives in NYC won't let us investigate or report the truth." He said this with a straight face and a look of compassion, and I had no reason to doubt him at all. It only confirmed what I had believed all along.
So chew that over, blowhards, and ponder why intelligent and discerning people have less than zero respect for your sorry profession.
I am appending some links to get you up to speed about the 9-11 attacks, if there is even an ounce of integrity left in your blackened hearts.
Shalom baShem Yeshua - Peace in the Name of Jesus,