No Avoiding Fate

The L.A. Times can consolidate and revamp and re-arrange the deck chairs all they want, and it won’t really change anything. The dead tree/Gutenberg empire is going down, down, down. The Rocky Mountain News will publish its last issue on Friday. The Tuscon Citizen will cease publishing on 3.21 after 138 years in business. One by one, newspapers are dropping like flies.

It is nothing short of a Biblical scourge. Frogs, locusts…the Nile turned red. It’s the green mist descending from the sky and gliding along the ground, bringing death to every publication that doesn’t have lamb’s blood (i.e., a primarily web-based focus with a lean staff and low overhead) smeared on its front door.

  • Chicago48

    You mean to tell me that Arts & Entertainment was separate all the time; how archaic. A&E go together, almost in one blend.

  • Krazy Eyes

    It’s hard to get too worked up about these closings. I’ve gotten all my news from the Internet for years. Haven’t touched a paper since. I’m sorry for the people losing their jobs but for the papers themselves as an institution they’ve outlived their usefulness.

  • Ryansi51

    I still love to read the paper. nothing gives me more joy than picking up an LA WEEKLY thursday around noon…

    that reminds me, gotta go!

  • http://www.filmjerk.com EdHavens

    It’s easy to blame the current financial crisis on the new rash of newspaper closing, but the fact of the matter is, cities not named New York do not need more than one newspaper. Los Angeles really doesn’t need two papers, even, and the only reason the Daily News should continue to exist is if the Valley-heads finally get their way and divest themselves from the rest of the area. Just as Hollywood no longer really needs both the Reporter and Variety.

  • George Prager

    Its ok. I get my information from the internet, specifically from blogs that get their information from newspapers..uh-oh.

  • drturing

    Exactly, KrazyEyes. Where do you think that news on the Net came from? Paid reporting that other sites appropriated, or aggregated.

    Isn’t it amazing now considering a lot of the reaction to The Wire Season 5 how actually unbelievably prescient it was?

    If you don’t have a good city newspaper with good reporters, then you don’t understand what’s going on in your city.

    You don’t get the film championed that doesn’t have the marketing money to appear on your radar.

    You don’t get the local politican being caught in scandal.

  • MilkMan

    Dear Los Angeles Times,

    Thanks for nothing. Good riddance. Fuck you.

    Best,

    Milkman

  • drturing

    Ed Havens, this is exactly how blinkered people have become. Most city newspapers to a certain extent are going to reflect a bias one way or another.

    The only way to get a truly comprehensive view of how a civic body functions is by having a network of reporters trying to outdo each other.

    Also this fragmented sense of being in the know with the immediacy of the net doesn’t mean shit when the world outside your front door goes ignored by you. Yes, you know that some c list celebrity got out of their car last night and flashed their genitals. The Borough of Brooklyn has one single crime beat reporter now.

    Cities without newspapers are not healthy cities. That isn’t to say those institutions didn’t damn themselves, but this is not good.

  • TVMCCA

    Ryansi51 wrote:

    I still love to read the paper. nothing gives me more joy than picking up an LA WEEKLY thursday around noon…

    Even with the neocon ruination Mike Lacey and Jill Stewart have forced on the WEEKLY. If I pick it up, it’s to look at entertainment listings or concert ads.

  • actionman

    The Hartford Courant, our nation’s oldest newspaper, just fired another 100 people yesterday. Just waiting for them to close up shop…

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    So I guess we can go ahead and give Krazy Eyes “Most Clueless of the Day” at this point. Unless D.Z. decides to post about…well, anything.

  • Krazy Eyes

    Nope . . . still don’t really care about newspapers. If people really want their local news, then someone needs to figure out a business model to make it work with today’s technology. Printed newspaper just seem like dinosaurs. If the current companies can’t hack it (and there really is an interest) someone else with a better idea will come and fill the void.

  • Ryansi51

    TVMCCA- i agree, i pretty much just read the food, film and music sections, but that’s enough for me.

  • http://www.filmjerk.com EdHavens

    drturing: Denver is not going to be without a newspaper. The Denver Post, which is a fine newspaper, will still be covering local news. Tucson will not be without a newspaper either. It still has the Arizona Daily Star. Those like myself, who still get their daily news from newspapers, will still be able to do so in the way we prefer. Some of us will just have to buy a different paper.

    And just because most cities will now only have one paper doesn’t mean the people will lose any comprehensive views of how a civic body functions, as there are still other ways of getting news. Hell, here in Los Angeles, both major AM news stations, KFWB and KNX, are owned by the same company. And on occasions like the Oscars, they share the same broadcast. But 99% of the time, they fight tooth and nail to show why one if better than the other. And, of course, there are the local NPR radio stations, which often have local-based news programs on top of the half-hour news updates. And then we also have a plethora of television stations.

    Sure, there was a necessity to having more than one newspaper in a city before the days of radio and television and the internet. There was a necessity of having papers print a morning edition and an afternoon edition. But in this day and age, there are so many ways for the people of any area, from one thousand residents to eight million, to get local news that suggesting having only one newspaper in the area somehow means people will only be stuck with one point of view is ludicrous.

  • PCP_Patriots

    Tough to say this, but like Polaroid, and Apple before iTunes, newspapers have to adapt. Unfortunately just going to the web won’t help. Either way, the loss of jobs is the most important aspect of this.

  • bluetide

    Apart from the obvious failure of most newspapers to adapt to the internet era in any meaningful way, I think the problem is twofold:

    A) Too many newspapers were trying to compete with the NY Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Once upon a time, maybe you could include the LA Times in that category, along with a few others. But the truth is that the four I listed have been the only truly “national newspapers” for some time now. Trying to keep up with those guys and that big time news channels on national and international coverage created bigger and bigger overhead.

    B) Too many cities have only one newspaper. In the old days, almost all cities had two newspapers, almost always at different ends of the political spectrum. Consolodiation forced a lot of newspapers to the lukewarm middle. Their readers did not feel any loyalty to those papers.

  • drturing

    You totally miss my point, Havens. Newspapers had dedicated reporters to specific beats that required connections and a full time commitment. Other news sources may be popping up, but they lack the specific city focus that most large cities need and deserve. Beat reporters – do your radio stations or blogs have dedicated beat reporters?

  • drturing

    And by the way, even cities that had multiple newspapers had corporate narrow focus of interest that tended to prioritize Angelina Jolie or silly Pulitzer chasing over local politics and crime and society and culture.

  • http://www.filmjerk.com EdHavens

    drturing: I never once mentioned blogs in either of my previous posts. I don’t get my news from blogs. Well, I do get some entertainment news from blogs like this one and Poland’s and Finke’s, and I guess one could say they are dedicated reporters on specific beats that require connections and a full time commitment. But, naturally, Wells and Poland and Finke all came out of old media, so how the internet will change the face of beat reporting remains to be seen, since we are really still in the first generation of the internet as a living thing for mass consumption.

    But yeah, the station I listen to most often in Los Angeles, 89.3 KPCC, has a number of locally-produced shows which cover local topics. Some of the topics covered this week on AirTalk with Larry Mantle have included a debates between candidates running for the LAUSD District 4 seat and for the District 5 City Council seat, a discussion about Measure B (which would amend the city charter to require the DWP to produce 400 megawatts of power from solar energy by 2014). Patt Morrison’s public affairs show is often a lively and spirited affair, and the regular news reports throughout the day always feature local stories.

    But as I said before, I get my news first and foremost from the newspapers. The three specific papers I mentioned before, two of which (the Los Angeles Times and Variety) depress me every day, remembering how great they were twenty-five years ago as compared to today. I still want to kick the ass of the idiot who took the tabloid-style Sunday Calendar section and turned it into a broadsheet. I still miss Jim Murray and Charles Champlin every day. I wonder how Daily Variety honestly thinks some people are going to pay $3.50 for a Thursday edition that only has 12 pages, as was the case with yesterday’s issue. I miss when weekly Variety, in the days before megaplexes, used to print the individual grosses of each major theatre in any of fifty or so major markets (“Houston gaga for ‘Gandhi': 50k in 3″).

    Yeah, what’s going with newspapers today sucks. It sucks that good people are going to be losing their jobs today, when the Rocky Mountain News closes. They don’t deserve to go out like this. But neither do the employees of Circuit City or any of the thousands of businesses that have gone under due to the shit going down now. But the people of Denver are still going to be able to trundle down to the local convenience store on Saturday and grab a local paper and get local news. It’s just going to be a different paper than some of them are used to. They’re still going to read a good paper, and they’re still going to have some top notch reporting going on at this other paper, which, like most papers today, are neither left nor right but firmly centrist in order to bring in the widest possible readership. We are long gone from the days when W.R. Hearst would start a newspaper up to push a local or national election a certain way. Hell, it took the Los Angeles Times thirty-six years to finally endorse a Presidential candidate (from Nixon to Obama) for fear of upsetting some of their readership.

  • Edward

    Unless the internet news fills in the slack somehow the loss of newspapers will take away the indepth coverage of local issues. Where will we get the analysis of the major city/county/state issues? Will we rely on a couple of very biased blogs? Will we rely on the 30 second story on the local news channel. The loss of newspapers is very troubling beyond those hundreds of people who will be out of work.