When the NY Times falls, it will take Modern Journalism down with it 2/26/08Posted by Steve Boriss in NYTimes.
As the NY Times prepares to stave-off its second shareholder revolt in as many years, things are not what they appear to be. This is not simply a fight between an inbred, blueblood, change-averse, and managerially-challenged Sulzberger family against financially-burned and opportunity-sniffing investors who want to drag them kicking and screaming into the digital world. The paper’s slowness in shifting from paper to electrons is insufficient to explain why its stock has lost half its value in the past 5 years, its bonds are rated two levels above junk, and it has drawn-in the new, Murdoch-run Wall Street Journal as its likely most formidable competitor in a century.
In fact, this shareholder revolt is a fight between Modern Journalism and a marketplace that wants it dead. This becomes clear when you consider that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the problems faced by the Times and an industry that follows their lead and celebrates them as their gold standard.
Virtually none of the tenets of the Times and Modern Journalism are believable anymore. “All the news that’s fit to print?” How could it be all the news when so much more is available on the Internet? How could it all be fit to print, when the story about John McCain’s affairless affair clearly wasn’t? How could it all be “verified truth” when a leading network anchor couldn’t tell the difference between a forged document and a real one? And, who are you going to believe in regards to “objectivity” — a landslide two-thirds of the public who believe the media are biased, or an elite who seem genetically incapable of recognizing their own center-left views or acknowledging that honest men may differ?
The best idea for saving the Times inadvertently came from their former Public Editor Daniel Okrent, who admitted non-defensively that the Times is a liberal paper. The Times should embrace its liberalism and use it to build more loyalty among liberal readers and extinguish distrust among non-liberal ones. “Bias” is not a four-letter word. Partisan news was America’s standard until a century ago and it still works among today’s London newspapers. It is the future of news. Modern Journalism is not.