Because you cannot insult people and demand their loyalty

At The Denver Post on Monday, more than two dozen reporters, editors, photographers, videographers, page designers, digital producers and opinion staff will walk out the door. Our marching orders are to cut a full 30 by the start of July.
These heartbreaking instructions raise the question: Does this cut, which follows so many in recent years that our ranks have shriveled from more than 250 to fewer than 100 today, represent the beginning of the end for the Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire?

Editorial: As vultures circle, The Denver Post must be saved

What’s happening to the Denver Post is not unique. Many old newspapers and printed media in general are suffering from a slump that is forcing their owners to make cuts in order to remain up and running and maybe even profitable.

I apologize for using the word “profit.” I understand that for many people in the News business, profit is a bad word that can never be said in front of polite intellectual company. To demand that a newspaper make a profit is like demanding to sacrifice virgins to satisfy some absurd god: it is stupid and immoral according to editors.

But the same editors steered the paper into the dire straits they are facing now.  The newspaper would not need to be going through these pains if they actually did something they are supposed to do since they opened their doors: Sell newspapers.

A flagship local newspaper like The Post plays a critically important role in its city and state: It provides a public record of the good and the bad, serves as a watchdog against public and private corruption, offers a free marketplace of ideas and stands as a lighthouse reflective and protective of — and accountable to — a community’s values and goals. A news organization like ours ought to be seen, especially by our owner, as a necessary public institution vital to the very maintenance of our grand democratic experiment.

These words would have had been effective say 10 years ago. Even today to us, old school readers, they manage to give the smallest of tugs in our hearts because we remember when newspapers were something you respected. But that respect went away when you chose sides and I don’t mean that the paper leaned one way or the other politically, that is to be expected, but when the majority of newspapers in the nation became propaganda rags and damage control tools for one party. You refused the vet candidates while digging for all kinds of nasty crap on their opponents. You sofballed the politicians on your side while asking their opposition if they stopped beating their wives. You constantly lied about subjects even though the data was present and logically impossible to refute because that is what the politicians of your side demanded to be published. You basically polluted that marketplace of ideas with your obvious bias and were not even smart enough to charge for it.

So when you insult your customers day in and day out, they do something strange: they abandon you. Your income tanks and you become a weak institution, prime target for somebody who wants to buy it cheap.

This in a market filled with hyper-educated citizens ready and able to afford great journalism should it be offered them.

That is funny as shit. You cannot produce a good-quality product but somehow you feel you are that product and are sure that if some rich Mexican Cell Phone entrepreneur comes along, you will be able to deliver that product to those hyper-educated citizens that already abandoned you because you simply suck.

The only advantage newspapers have over other media is that they are the ones that can do in-depth investigations and present it over a period of time. Their is not to rush for the 20 second spot over the air nor the quick headlines of a web feed. That niche alone should be enough to provide you with a nice income, enough to break even and keep people in the payroll.

But when people have grown to distrust that “investigation” because of the obvious lies and general misinformation they read in your pages, then you have cut your own throat and there is no way to save your sorry ass.

It is not that newspapers should disappear, in fact they should be brought back. What needs to disappear is the propaganda corps that runs newspapers across the nation and they better do it soon as the only reason many people still buy the newspapers is because of the coupons that come with it and not for the information.

14 Replies to “Because you cannot insult people and demand their loyalty”

  1. Whenever I hear of a paper or some other media source going under, it always springs to mind this event from my college career.

    I was taking a history course that, for some reason, was being taught by a journalism professor. I had the habit of showing up a bit early to sit and eat my lunch in the classroom. One day, the professor came up to me and started asking me questions regarding a paper I had written. Thinking I hadn’t put in enough details and wanted clarification. Of course I answered them. He handed me the paper. B+. I was happy. I started browsing through the paper at the notes and saw that the questions he had asked me were underlined in the paper. He was checking to see if I had actually written it. I asked him why. His answer. And I quote.

    “It seemed too well written for a college student”.

    I did ask “And that only got me a B?” He changed it to an A.

    Think about that. A paper I didn’t even put that much effort into seemed ‘too well written’ for Journalism and he was willing to give me a decent grade even thinking I was plagiarizing.

  2. The slow death of the “Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire” began when the “Rocky Mountain News” merged with the “Denver Post” back in the 2001. The “Rocky” was feisty, moderately liberal, and damned well written. It was always entertaining and unafraid to hold local politicians accountable. In short, exactly what you would expect of an old line, independent newspaper. The “Post” on the other hand was a liberal, house organ for the local and state government. With the merger, the “Rocky” became the same as the “Post” and ceased to have a reason to exist. Coupled with instant and free access to news on the internet and the demise of truly independent reporting, the result was inevitable and foreseeable.

    1. I would happily read a “feisty, moderately liberal, and damned well written” paper that was “unafraid to hold local politicians accountable”, especially the latter part.

      A Leftist Party Organ is frankly not worth the money, even if I mostly use the paper to clean guns on.

      1. That’s why I subscribe to the WSJ rather than to the local papers. Then again, I suppose I could get the Manchester Union Leader (Manchester, NH) which has never been accused of being liberal.

  3. I suppose you can, actually, both insult people and demand their loyalty.

    But then you need some form of coercion to get it. Those can range from coupons to secret police, depending on who’s doing the demanding.

  4. “This in a market filled with hyper-educated citizens ready and able to afford great journalism should it be offered them.”

    Hey, not my fault the Denver Post isn’t producing great journalism. I get most of my news peer-to-peer on social media.

  5. This is economics 101 in action- sell a crappy product, and you will eventually go out of business.
    That the “Hyper-Educated” seem to have this idea that basic economics don’t apply to them is rather amusing… the Gods of the Copybook Heading especially.

  6. “and accountable to — a community’s values and goals.” The community values truth and honesty. The Post did not provide that and now are being held accountable. Sounds like they got exactly what they asked for.

  7. I haven’t bought a newspaper in years, and I say let them all fail, even the ones I agree with. Same goes for the abject bottom feeders masquerading as journalists on news networks. I stopped watching because the networks have become propaganda outlets, and even the ones I agree with had become worthless as news sources, as all they were doing was validating the opinions I already had.

Feel free to express your opinions. Trolling, overly cussing and Internet Commandos will not be tolerated .

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.