Sunday, July 15, 2007

They are already too late...

Good heavens, the journalism world has their collective undergarments in twirl over Rupert Murdoch - the Lord Voldemort of News - buying the Wall Street Journal.
That's a good point. But where Fine fails is in believing that Murdoch wouldn't buy the Journal just to destroy it. He fails to recognize that rotten old bastard won't be able to keep himself from defiling the paper. It's in his nature to contaminate his own wells. As experienced Journal reporters and editors leave or are driven out, their replacements will owe their allegiance to Murdoch and Murdoch's people. Will they bring to news coverage the impartiality we've come to expect from the Journal? Or will they pull and duck punches on his behalf? Will they skew stories about Viacom and Condé Nast and China to please the well-known views of their master? You betcha. I can't recall any News Corp. employee who got a raise or a promotion after undermining the Murdoch empire's interests with an honest, accurate story. [More]
They may be right, but I have been struck by the apocalyptic nature of the opinions. My experiences (and they are few) with real journalists have been few but I did have a chance to visit at length with an impressively credentialed reporter for the WaPo, and his remarks were eye-opening.

Newspapers have been outflanked by electronic media and many journalists simply cannot embrace writing for something like - well, a blog. The professional pride was actually attached to a physical paper, I think. Nor can they be bothered to ponder deeply the problems over on the publishing (sales) side of the business. And those guys have long been looking into the Gates of Financial Heck. Given a choice of adapt or die, many journalists are rather romantically throwing themselves on the pyres. If anybody bothers, it will make a heroic historical study.

But the takeover at WSJ is simply the fall of one last castles, and hardly the unique event they make it out to be. Looks to me like this war was actually lost about 4 years ago. Newspapers are not the future it seems. Personally, I stopped paying for the WSJ since I could not link to it for you guys.

What they also discount is the market value of truth. People will pay for credible information, but is has to be faster and deeper and also do part of the the analysis for them, blending opinion and fact - an unthinkable breech of journalistic standards. Maybe standards should never be changed, but that business plan is failing.

The deeper fear and grief is for that economic system, perhaps. Because unless I miss my guess, Murdoch will lower the subscription firewall on the WSJ. Others agree.

The world will not end, and power will rise to confront power. And in the meantime, people will discover the importance of voices who can be trusted.

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