Saturday, April 25, 2009

Newspapers: Stop the Presses Already

Newspapers are falling like flies now that the news is free* on the internet. Now every time a print editor writes an editorial insisting that we're going to miss trained pro reporters when the last paper has folded and only those flakey bloggers are left, another paper dies and another 1,245 news blogs are created.

Meanwhile, of the 32 people world-wide who read the latest self-interested fall-of-newspapers editorial in the paper, only four cared, and all of them hold large stock positions in USA Today.*

As the nation's Car Czar, I'm here to help.

Newspapers have already seen how devastating free web news* is. Radio and Television: I hope you've taken some notes, because you're next. Newspapers were the canary in the coal mine because print was the cheapest medium to replicate in the nascent days of web access. Now audio and video are being pumped through the world's fat tubes with nary a buffering issue.

Here's what you traditional media must do to survive:

Newspapers: Quit printing already. I like sprawling on the couch with the Sunday paper and a steaming black cup of Maxwell House as much as the next guy, but your giant printing presses are bleeding you dry printing news that the world read yesterday. The only thing readers want from local newspapers nowadays is local news, and there's never enough of it in non-top-25-in-the-world cities to justify the trees, let alone printing and distribution.

I know. Every once in a while you print a unique in-depth investigative piece exposing the reality that those "Amish Space Heaters" and "Hoards of Never-before-photographed Collectible Coins" you've been taking-in full-page ad revenue on for years are ... shockingly ... all a big rip-off. Thanks for the tip, and too bad about all those old boogers who called-in.

But most of what you've filled the balance of your news pages with is crap.

Hints from Heloise. Nobody-gives-a-flip bloviating from Miss Manners. Crossword puzzles. Comics that are 95-percent brain dead and which will fully flatline if Scott Adams and Gary Trudeau ever leave your pages.

Even your syndicated political commentary looks pretty lame nowadays, because pro pundits are still confused about how to incisively parse this whole Obama Thing.

The left-wing scribes are trying too hard not to let Chris Matthews Chills go up their collective legs over our damned-great new president while the right-wingers have spent the past few months just gasping and wheezing in important-sounding tones.

Look. Bloggers are just better than newspaper columnists at explaining complex ideas.

Case-in-point: Obama's First 100 Days:

President O. isn't perfect, but so far he's turning out to be the greatest U.S. president any living American has ever seen.

(Syndicated columnists would take forever trying to make the case for the above basic truth or hopelessly trying to refute it. They have to meet silly tree-, ink-, and time-wasting column-inch requirements and just end up sounding tired or pompous. Bloggers quit whenever they're tired of writing).

Soon almost everyone in the free world will have a web phone or a netbook or content-pushing microwave. In another decade the print circulation market is going to be shut-ins who are still trying to figure out why their TVs stopped working 10 years ago.

So cut the crap, print titans. Please heretofore* put your professionally-vetted unique content on the web and I'll see you on my Blackberry.

Radio: Except for Clear Channel, you're pretty much headed to the web anyway. Congrats.

If reality ever sinks in with all those scared-to-death racists, hicks, and old people, Clear Channel can sell their silent towers to base-jumping clubs.

Television: You're pretty hip as well, with plenty of ad-monetized web content out there already and an army of attorneys ready to turn the YouTube to sand with every "Whoops ... we thought it was 'Fair Use'" piracy attempt. Since it costs too much to make a bad television show for long, sucky shows like Parks and Recreation (hey – "a show about nothing" worked out great for Seinfeld. Let's make the whole show all about a public dump ... that's even better than nothing) will continue to live or die by ratings.

But Saturday Night Live should consider itself on notice. You guys might survive by well-timed presidential elections and Peyton Manning appearances, but once everything's on the web you can be sure your audience will be replacing those interminably-boring Italian TV host skits with the wide-eyed fat guy dressed up as a little boy – and those Gilly skits, for that matter – with funnier crap from the You Tube on our on-screen content aggregation pages.

Web Content: Safe for now. Lots of stuff for free. It's soooo easy to ignore those Google ads.

*I know. News isn't free. And you can't buy "USA Today" stock, not specifically. "Heretofore" is used incorrectly in this blog and jumps pretentiously out of nowhere. But this is a new world order, and half-baked bloggers rule. In your face, George Will.


No comments:

Post a Comment