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Thursday, July 31, 2008

The day the music died

The newspaper business continues to collapse, with big chunks falling off this week. The Newhouse newspapers have announced that large numbers of staff people will have to take buyouts, or else. Apparently, or else what has not been announced in all cases, but today at the Newark Star-Ledger, they said they would sell the paper unless the news staff was cut by a third. No doubt a similar threat hangs over the O and all other Newhouse papers. (They also announced this week that they're closing their bureau in Washington, D.C.)

Meanwhile, there's serious trouble a-brewing at the Portland Tribune, where the paper version's been cut to a weekly and marching orders have been issued to pump out more material daily on the internet, but with fewer resources. Confirmation of some prominent personnel changes is reportedly just around the corner. (Indeed, the big one was made official this afternoon, but there is likely at least one more in the works.)

My first real job in this world was as a reporter for a Newhouse newspaper in New Jersey, The Jersey Journal (still there, but probably doomed now). I learned more about writing, and life in the real world, in that three-year period than at any other time in my life. It was during that time that I decided to get out to the West Coast, to see what was there, and to go to law school. The original plan was to stay media-connected -- either as a lawyer for journalists or as a journalist covering law. That program faded, but I never lost my affection for the men and women who deliver information to the public. As much as I may disagree with their editorial positions from time to time, it pains me to see them out of their jobs.

Who killed their industry? Bill Gates started it with his infernal computer in people's houses. Whoever got this World Wide Web thing going accelerated the process. After a while, the public decided it could get information delivered to their desks for "free" -- so long, of course, as they paid their monthly tribute to Comcast, Qwest, or AT&T. Paid newspaper readership has been on a steady decline after that change in attitude. Kids today are simply never going to subscribe to a newspaper.

But Craigslist was probably the real death knell. Without the huge nickel-and-dime revenue that the papers got from people selling houses, cars, and garage sale junk, and from people looking for employees or employment, suddenly you can't keep the lights on at a newspaper.

Other industries have it coming. Higher education is holding out, but it won't be able to do so forever. It may come after my career, but a lot of graduate school is going to be on the internet, like it or not.

This week, it's the newspaper folks hearing the bad news. My heart goes out to them and their families as they figure out what they are going to do next.

Comments (15)

Here's a webOnly Investigative Reporter who survives and thrives selling subscribers access at 30 bucks a year. One guy who gleans more news, (he says its the Rolodex), single-handedly than all of Newhouse's news in a year.

My contempt for newspapers wells from my familiarity. When I used to install computer systems in newspapers, it (and I) was responsible for ending the typographers union and laying off thousands of Press employees. I could accept that responsibility. I could not accept the publishers and editors who terminated the typographers and positions, offering no retraining, then gleefully mocking them and snickering lickspittle lips for the large 'performance bonus' for swinging the hatchet. While bosses and labor were literally neighbors in the community. Ha, instant karma gonna getcha. Good riddance to bad rubbish, (op)Pressed Rats and Warthogs -- close down the shop!

As for the Academe Industry future prospects of the Scientific-Technological Elite, (the other, forgotten danger to democracy, Eisenhower warned us is worse, in his Farewell speech with Military-Industrial Complex warning), well, probably (public or private) professorial pay grades are beholding to student tuitions. Freedom of Tuition was defunded in recent months, by Bushbutchery, and student enrollment already is decimated, and cratering.

Here: Pilfered Dreams: The Story of Student Loans and Sallie Mae, Dr. Kathy McMahon - Peak Oil Shrink blog, 25 Jul 2008.
The post you are about to read is a horror mystery, a tragedy, a calamity just about to happen. It is a story about young people who have been burdened with huge amounts of debt on the promise of a future career that will enable them to pay it off. They complete two or three years successfully at their chosen college, and can’t return in September, because they can’t find another year of student loan tuition funding. Suddenly, they have a debt of $50-100,000 and no way to complete the education that they’d hoped would secure them the job they’ll need to pay off that debt burden.

The pump and dump is now complete. -- What remains are empty holes in our pension funds, foreign investor’s portfolios, and private retirement funds, where a profitable stock used to be. Sallie Mae, a stock once courted less than a year ago by seven major bank willing to pay $60 a share, now sells in the mid- to low-teens. A company that once was praised for its innovation, administering more than $18 billion in college savings accounts for nearly 10 million customers, now bears junk bond status.

I can see the day when K-12 budget cuts force school districts to "unbundle" services and replace classroom teachers with computer programs or maybe even live feeds from teachers overseas who are paid a fraction of local salaries.
They'll be teaching the kids to pass the multiple choice tests and calling it education.
Yeah, it will also be harder to get the "first rough draft of history" on wood pulp. Those of us who prefer the coverage that way are dinosaurs.

Just this a.m. around 4:30 I heard the paperguy making his rounds. As ours hit the driveway I was pondering the eventual demise of the daily delivery. Guess I am 'old school' but I will never give up printed matter for internet. I enjoy both for different reasons. As an avid reader I crave the paper in hand. Thumbing through at leisure with morning cuppa. Nothing on a screen can compete.
To think some are predicting the day when books will cease being printed. That will be the day I go to the big library in the sky.

Some of the more useful publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Barron's have been getting money from online subscribers for several years. And their subsciber base is growing as local dailies continue to shrink business and financial news. A perfect example is the all but useless business section the Oregonian publishes.

It's going to happen, but I will mourn the day that print newspapers go onto the technology junk heap.

I've been reading newspapers since I was six years old, starting with the comics, and advancing to sports, Dear Abby, and Art Buchwald. When I was a "paperboy" in Jr. high and high school, I got a thrill at reading the paper before the people on my route.

As an adult, when our kids were little, they knew not to bother dad on Sunday morning, or even TOUCH the Sunday paper, until dad was finished reading it. Yeah, I put reading the Sunday paper before my own children! (The only hour break I got all week to myself!)

I'm like a lot of newspaper junkies. Start the day early in the quiet of the morning. Cup of coffee. Paper sections lovingly folded and read one at a time. It's in my blood. Print newspapers forever!

Some things are just too good to die. Our print papers are having a rough time of it and for all the reasons listed. That doesn’t mean however they are going to give up and fold up. The on line world isn’t everything and becoming more cluttered with commercial stuff all the time. It gets more difficult doing any kind search for material without traversing mine fields of sales pitches, porno sites and phishing sites. Even Craigslist has limitations with all sorts of scams and treacherous behavior. Ten years ago everyone was saying that US Today was going to ruin the local papers and that didn’t happen either. Look, even vinyl is coming back, so dig out your turntable and listen to some of your old favorites while reading the Sunday forum page.

Some things are just too good to die.

Famous last words.

Newspapers are getting what they deserve. They all have their political agendas and God forbid anyone write a "Letter to the Editor" that goes against their agendas. They've caved. They've been bought. The days of "getting the daily scoop" are gone. Truth isn't in their vocabulary. They worry about printing the truth at the cost of advertising dollars. When is the last time you saw a newspaper who stood for something? Who took on the fight of the little guy?'s all gardening sections, entertainment, the God Almighty advertising buck..they've BEEN dead. It's just that no one called the "time of death".

All I need to know is who is going to maintain the comix list.

I gotta have my daily comix.

Too many rewrites of PR releases from their friends. Too many articles printed before the relevant facts were in (and checked)

I will miss the crossword puzzles.

These comments (up to Jack's "Famous last words." comment) are just that... the last words of a near dead institution.

Is it sad? Yes, in some ways. Like the venerable buggie whip. Whose crying now? Nobody.

As for schools, can they be improved by advancing technology? Obviously not. America has the world's best edu system. Only other industries can benefit from new technology. The Edu system is different. Blah blah blah. (end of sarcasm).

The Newspaper indsutry will continue to shrink, and it'll evolve.

And so will the schools. Just like in class Professors have mostly been replaced by lower priced grad student TAs (regarding classroom instruction), so too will that evolve, and computers and even cheaper labor will be part of that equation.

Life moves on... so whould you.

I used to love getting and reading the newspaper everyday. It was given up for 1 reason only, the news in it was old long before it was printed. The paper would arrive full of stories 2-4 days old and sometimes well over a week old. They didn't even try to keep up with the internet. If the stories were only 1 day old I would probably still be getting it.

...they've BEEN dead. It's just that no one called the "time of death".

You nailed it, Pam.

My concern is, how are people going to find out what's really going on in government after all the investigative reporters have been laid off? Blog sites like this one can (and do) fill part of the void, but let's face it, most blogs don't have the circulation and influence of the big newspapers, and most bloggers don't have the time to investigate and evaluate complex governmental programs.

Yes, I know that many newspapers have already severely cut back on their investigative reporting to avoid offending their big advertisers (which include some government agencies). However, even rather lame newspapers like the Oregonian occasionally produce some very insightful articles that expose wrongdoing, incompetence and ineffectiveness.

Let's hope the better newspapers survive the Internet Age.

Other industries have it coming. Higher education is holding out, but it won't be able to do so forever.

I heard that. The GM at my office, who is no dummy, is getting his MBA online. When he told me this a while back, I had a hard time holding back a smirk. After he explained how the online program works, and what he is required to do in the program, the urge to smirk left me.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
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Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
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Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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