Hey, America: This is what you’ll lose, once the last bloated newspapers close forever: People like this, whining about the Most Important Thing Ever, a soggy newsprint version of yesterday’s wire copy and weeks-old syndicate features about “winter vegetables,” wrapped around a Big Lots! circular and six or seven pages of foreclosure notices in the back, along with a few “I HEREBY REFUSE TO PAY MY DEBT” classifieds, where the jobs/real estate ads used to be. Oh god.

Here’s a little message for self-important douchesacks from Washington Post whiner Richard Cohen to this guy and his embarrassing YouTube performance: Shut up. There is nothing particularly interesting or important about that clump of pulp tossed in the neighbor’s wet driveway at 2:21 a.m. Stop this fetishistic weeping over a long-expected technological change in news delivery. Do you goddamned people realize you’re the ONLY ONES bemoaning a switch from inefficient, untimely dissemination of information?

Even cranky old John McCain and handsome young techno-president Barack Obama could at least agree that important information — medical records, for example — should be created and updated and shared electronically.

Cry, emo baby.But it’s not just the printing press you people are whining about. Most of you coddled cubicle hacks have never even seen the pressroom. What you’re so pathetically grieving is your fading culture, a masturbatory profession of over-educated overpaid typists who had a stranglehold on American journalism for 30 years or so — the Golden Era of the fat monopoly newspaper with its total control of local opinion, the real estate and jobs markets, which politicians were on the way up or down, who had an Important Wedding, what ladies were the stars of Society and the Debutante Balls. You people were the dam that held back all the world’s information: stock prices, distant wars, consumer trends, comic strips, Fall Recipes, and those precious reprints of George Will columns. And you trickled out a little bit each day, the volume depending on the number of ad pages. It’s a good thing nothing important ever happened on Mondays, right?

Somehow, insanely, this business model — once the government helped newspaper publishers crush all local competition — grew into ridiculous unsustainable monstrosities like the Los Angeles Times, with thousands of editorial employees, to produce a newspaper! (And, in the LAT‘s case, a newspaper that could barely be bothered to cover Los Angeles, because the job of the j-school tools was, obviously, to chase Pulitzer Prizes, and call each other “scribe” without irony. Ugh.)

And now, these terrible people who spent the past eight years looking the other way while actual murdering criminals ran the White House as 100-page real-estate sections promoting an immoral lie delayed the newspaper industry’s death by a few years, they want a bailout. And if that fails, well they will just take their ball and go home.

Go on, scram. And stop quoting Thomas Jefferson or whatever, like that’s got anything to do with you lamers upset because your shitty column was killed.

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  1. You are totally wrong on this one — those used newspapers are really good for insulation. When we’re all sleeping in our hobo cardboard boxes we’ll need all the warmth we can get.

  2. Here, again, is Colbert at the National Press Club. It’s almost as timeless as that video of the guy hurling his footwear at Bush:

    And as excited as I am to be with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story. The president’s side and the vice president’s side. But the rest of you, what are you thinking reporting on NSA wire tapping, or secret prisons in Eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason, they’re super depressing. And if that’s your goal, well, misery accomplished.

    Over the last 5 years you people were so good. Over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn’t want to know and you had the courtesy not to tell us. Those were good times, as far as we knew. But listen let’s review the rules, here’s how it works. The president makes decisions, he’s the decider, the press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put it through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again, make love to your wife! Write that novel you got kicking around in your head; you know the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration: you know, fiction!

  3. I’m old.

    I grew up with the LA Times. It’s been my ritual, since I was five years old, to eat breakfast with the LAT open on the table. I’ve loved a lot of their coverage. I’ll miss them. I learned a lot about the world from the Times.

    And what the *hell* will I use to sheet compost my garden now, huh? Answer me that!

  4. [re=239021]Min[/re]: Me too. On both counts. And people that say it’s the same or better to take your laptop into the bathroom creep me the hell out.

  5. Whoa. First of all address me with respect and take off your fucking hat. I get it. You’re bald. Move on with it.

    Next. Why are you wearing what appears to be a sort of brown neoprene wetsuit? Were you in the middle of something when the spirit struck you like Howard Beale? Are you a diver for UPS?


  6. But Ken, our whole Republic was founded on the idea that elites would control the flow of information, and tell the commoners how to vote and pray and think. Read Tocqueville, for instance – he notes that the whole reason American “Democracy” and “Freedom” succeeded in producing a stable society is because it was all rigidly controlled by the elites, through the institutions of church (when there were still just a few mainline protestant denominations, and all dissenters were ostracised or sent to Maryland) and school and press, etc. Slowly, as we lose these institutions for controlling the masses, they might start trying to think for themselves, and that would be a disaster (I am totally serious – just imagine your average American actually forming and acting on their own opinions. Scary thought, isn’t it?)

    The safety of our country depends on preserving the elites’ ability to indoctrinate and control the masses.

  7. so, yeah, layne–you get a 10.0 for vitriol, but, thanks to the russian judge (and a lack of general coherence) barely a 4.2 for content.

    if all the trained journalists disappeared tomorrow, we’d be fucked. I don’t really care too much about the medium–paper, internet, beamed directly into your mind, whatever–but let’s not try to pretend that the l.a. times, bloated though it may be, isn’t better at covering the nation, world and, yes, l.a., than three people with a digital camera and a clever url.

  8. [re=239042]jagorev[/re]: The only thing with you’re theory is that most idiots don’t have fully-formed opinions: they have soundbytes handed over to them. They are not connected to any kind of rationale. These people will search for someone to direct them even if it takes them all life.

    They’re, like, afraid to try it on their own.

  9. Mr. Glorified Paperboy in that video goes on for five minutes about this? I hope he explains why my hometown rag can’t do a better job as a completely online news site (besides the fact that it has one of the suckiest layouts I’ve ever seen). Wouldn’t having the AP feed in one spot free up a lot of reporters for covering actual local news? Because the demise of Parade magazine is not going to ruin my Sunday.

  10. [re=239046]apocalypsethen[/re]: Right, because if these bloated, sad sack operations all died the deaths they deserve, -nothing- would take their place. That would be impossible.

  11. [re=239046]apocalypsethen[/re]: Hire a hundred people in India to peruse blogs, government and business statistics, press releases, etc and put the most notable stuff together and you could have a product superior to 99% of American journalism for one-one hundredth the cost.

  12. And you trickled out a little bit each day, the volume depending on the number of ad pages. One minor suggestion. Here insert: “And most of what trickled consisted of the glorification of violence and gossip.”

  13. [re=239046]apocalypsethen[/re]: I am not one to take up the “INTARNET RULZ, NEWSPAPERS DROOLZ” mentality at all, but I believe one can make your argument — that, in fact, reporters are doing a very good thing, from the local level up to the global, with far-flung bureaus and a network of people who actually take the time to go out and try and discover things to report back home, and that the “citizen journalist” that gets trumpeted in places like Wired is pretty much useless and ridiculous without actual trained journalists giving them the actual info — and still recognize that the actual business model of the newspaper industry has become the obscene mess that it is today thanks to gatekeeping editors, revenue-obsessed publishers, and a business model that still insists that there should be some schmuck in the Local section who gets a column to hawk sub-Wally Lamb schmaltz every two days.

  14. [re=239046]apocalypsethen[/re]: the l.a. times, bloated though it may be, isn’t better at covering the nation, world and, yes, l.a., than three people with a digital camera and a clever url. Hmm. Do I detect a false dilemma?

  15. [re=239034]user-of-owls[/re]: No need to take your laptop to the potty. I collect & print out, periodically, stuff I find in online papers and such. Then when it’s time for a meal or a dump, I grab my pile of papers and read away. No need for ink-stained fingers when pooping or eating. Or eating poop. And apart from, maybe, a couple or three big city papers, name one local paper that doesn’t suck donkey balls. My local (Austin, TX) paper, with no competition ever, isn’t worth lining a bird cage nor wrapping fish. It exists only to be laughed at, and ignored. It is simply a tool for those bent on turning our town into a mini-Los Angeles. Plus everything they print is free online. Or so I’ve heard.

  16. [re=239058]Colander[/re]: You’re right! Good thing you or no one you knows bases their opinion entirely on blogs or other Internet media, you freethinker, you.

  17. I enjoy the paper NYT for old times sake (and because I work in a rural computer-free zone) but if all the papers go away I won’t be too upset. Turn all the local dailies into free weeklies and drop them off at all the nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

  18. I’m not too worried about the demise of print journalism knowing that Joe the Plumber will always be available to do his stellar reporting for America.

  19. i say cell phone providers should go dark for 3 weeks to support the telegram industry!

    no more email!!! teh post office is in trouble!

    and talkies? you keep your damn talkies!

  20. [re=239087]hobospacejungle[/re]: Are you defaming the Austin Chronicle? It is actually an excellent newspaper. You can wrap fish in it, and, later on, if you want to, you can read it.

  21. [re=239079]slavojzizek[/re]: and… no. I’m pretty sure you don’t actually believe that, but if so, it’s a ridiculous idea. you think reporting is nothing more than looking at statistics and reading press releases?

    @kingofpants: I think you’re absolutely right. newspapers are screwed not because they provide something irrelevant but because their revenue model is fucked. the advertising side didn’t even think about how to make money with anything other than print ads until, well, it was too late.

    @aurelio: you detect hyperbole.

  22. Let’s not give J-schools too much credit. Or any credit, actually. Having myself “earned” a useless fucking degree in journalism (not grad school, though, I dropped out of history grad school) I feel entitled to wonder just what the fuck is the point of graduate journalism school. I learned more working one year at my college paper than i did in any journalism class. Real journalists should have degrees in history or politics or economics or law or science, not journalism. Sorry, but journalism is not a job that takes super special secret knowledge. The most important part of the job is providing context to the story, something people with only J degrees are pretty much incapable of doing, to our obvious detriment over the past eight years or more of political failure. And to our continuing detriment in the reporting of science and economics especially.

    Great post Ken. Anger agrees with you.

  23. [re=239104]Aurelio[/re]: Are you defaming the Austin Chronicle?

    Ha! No, actually. Forgot about that one. But I don’t read it, either. I am old-ish (43) and get a rash whenever I get near downtown or 6th St. The youngs and their loud culture frighten me.

  24. That rant was pretty rad. “Great institutions”? “Shirk their watchdog responsibilities”? Jesus. This sanctimonious, beret-wearing, hipster douche needs to STFU.

  25. A week without newspapers is a week without their telemarketers using loopholes in the Do Not Call laws to pester me. I’m not buying your product because I don’t like you.

  26. [re=239084]King of Pants[/re]: As a fellow King, I’m mostly behind Pants’ sentiments here. There has to be some happy medium between professional reporting with all its wankery and amateur reporting with all its… wankery. I don’t want my only two choices to be Richard Cohen and Joe the Poop Smith.

  27. No online news? No matter, I shall hire a street urchin to hold the newspaper outside my breakfast room window, and turn the pages when I ‘click’ with my ivory pointer.

  28. [re=239021]Min[/re]: I like them, too. It is not the same surfing around a site because you stumble on things in the paper you might not otherwise on line. I use both, though. I read the WaPo at home in the a.m., including, yes, the comics, then have the site up at work all day and check in occasionally. Oh, and idiot that I am, I like reading some magazines, too. Paper ones!

  29. It’s easy for you to mock newspapers, Ken, you own a website! Some of us losers still have to eat!

    But I agree with you. I hate the constant whining about internet ads. “We still haven’t mastered the advertising revenue from our online divisions.” STILL? You’ve had, what, 10+ years to learn about the internet? Nick Denton is living a splashy life in a luxurious SoHo loft, with many a tan and greased-up rent boy to choose from, and huge media companies have yet to figure out how to turn a profit on their websites? It isn’t like the internet is going to go away any time soon! YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT.

    The fact these idiots run anything is why I need to find a different industry to work in.

  30. You know what Google News does for me? It lets me remove the sports and entertainment sections wholesale. Sure, some gets through every now and again, but never have I seen some Hollywood douchebag or some illiterate steroid user plastered at the top of the page.

    If knowing who won the Super Bowl was the most important part of my day, I would have actually watched the damned thing.

  31. [re=239111]hobospacejungle[/re]: The point of grad journalism school is to make connections. There is no other reason. Anyone who is going to j-school to “learn something” is an idiot. Why do you need connections? Because these newspaper people will literally not hire anyone off the street. Talking to people is scary, you see. So they hire friends of friends and the son of so-and-so or the 30-year-old intern or whoever. You don’t even have to be a decent writer to work if you know someone. No one cares if you are a “great writer.” And this insular, elite community is part of the reason that newspapers are failing.

    Of course, the j-school thing can apply to any grad school program outside of med or law school or getting your doctorate in whatever.

  32. In fact, if you want a new business model, I have one for you: All those professional entertainers whose mansions and sports cars depend entirely upon their fame and popularity? Fucking charge them for the free advertising you’ve been giving them and their ilk for well over a century. You can’t tell me that Disney or Major League Baseball couldn’t afford it.

  33. Thank you Ken! The cover on my fancy elite Time magazine this week had a picture of a newspaper and the headline was “How you can save your newspaper: a modest proposal”. I kinda freaked out, because really? Nothing else was going on this week?

    We have to hear about the importance of saving print media from print media? Isn’t that kinda like your coke dealer saying “Hey, man, coke is really great and you need to help me save the industry”.

    Also, I barely read that when I get it, cause all the “news” is already a week old. And I’ve come to realize that Joel Stein isn’t really even that funny (on a semi-related note, I used to think Joe Klein and Joel Stein were the same person, but that’s just cause I didn’t actually read either of their names).

    Blargh to you Monday!

  34. Google sez that Wonkette is the only search result for “I HEREBY REFUSE TO PAY MY DEBT” on the entire Internets. What’s up with that, America?

  35. Then there’s this slightly different kiss of death prediction by some dickweed expert on the new Amazon Kindle: “Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney also called it the ‘ipod of the book world’ last fall, predicting sales for the year of around 240,000.”


  36. Please don’t hit me, but I feel compelled to say that TPM, for all its faults, seems to be a pretty good model for a new type of financially sustainable journalism outside the tired old newspaper format, online or print.

  37. [re=239141]Origami[/re]: yeah, stupid newspapers, not being willing to “just hire people off the street.” and they are afraid of talking to people.

    this is a rational, well-thought-out argument, I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, etc.

    everyone who keeps posting that newspapers are failing because they are irrelevant or losing huge amounts of readers or whatever just really doesn’t understand what they are talking about. readership is not the pressing issue. ad revenue is.

  38. [re=239169]apocalypsethen[/re]: Yeah, but maybe newspapers are not getting ad revenue because they are irrelevant and therefore losing huge amounts of readers.

  39. nah. have been without a decent newspaper for about a month now; I read the local stuff, but it is small potatoes and vaguely right-wing. I miss the big newspaper. I read it before I went to work. who has the time to read a newspaper – even the newspaper’s web site – at work? Our Wonkette is fine, but you cannot follow any decent story, even assuming you have the time. so i find i slowly no longer know stuff that is going on. so i can’t join with Ken and think this is such a great thing. but i agree that i don’t see a solution.

  40. [re=239178]hobospacejungle[/re]: it would be a great point if it were true. the chicago tribune, for example, is in horrible financial shape. but readers are just trickling away. ad revenue, on the other hand, has fallen off a cliff–big advertisers just don’t exist anymore; many others don’t have as much money to spend. worse, the company has tremendous debt issues thanks to 1) an ill-advised purchase of times mirror about a decade ago and 2) a horribly structured sale to a bad owner, sam zell, last year.

    the tribune’s online readership, however, is up nearly 100 percent over the same period last year. that doesn’t scream “irrelevance” to me.

    no, the irrelevance argument is facile but not grounded in the real world. readers clearly value the product. and there is a whole world of internet sites (like wonkette) who make a lot of money off that product. the issue is how to turn that demand into cash; site ads aren’t doing it and gated-off content has not been popular.

  41. Okay, I get it. Newspapers are important. So this guy wants us all to recognize that. Fine, I’m recognizing it. Now what? What are we supposed to do after the Newspocalypse strikes on Independence Day? Demand that the government buy out the failing newspapers and run all news-gathering? Or are we all supposed to go, “Oh, okay, I’ll subscribe to a paper version of your newspaper even though I never read the thing, just as part of my civic duty?” I agree that there’s a problem, but I don’t see how this mass pout-fest will lead to a solution.

  42. [re=239130]Origami[/re]: well, a big deal (I think Yglesias brought it up) was how the newspapers lost the classified ads? To Craigs List and others? They would have had to do the ads for free and ads were a source or revenue so that was impossible.

  43. [re=239021]Min[/re]: No kidding. The CS Monitor going digital is really ruining my life, because the tabloid format is a perfect fit on top of the tanky-thing on back of the toilet. I’m old and pee a lot. Currently, I go to the bathroom and by the time I’m done, I know all about current in Kenya or Brazil or whatever. Without the CSM in paper form, I’ll be as dumb when I finish my bathroom business as when I began. Have some sympathy for your elders, Ken, please. We’re adapting as fast as we can, but it’s hard.

    I’m disappointed that, it being the Christian Science Monitor and all, that they couldn’t pray it to financial health.

  44. Then there’s this slightly different kiss of death prediction by some dickweed expert on the new Amazon Kindle: “Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney also called it the ‘ipod of the book world’ last fall, predicting sales for the year of around 240,000.”



  45. [re=239028]Monsieur Grumpe[/re]: Unless you take out Family Circle (who always shows dee-licous cakes alongside diet articles) you can’t wipe them out. They make me gag. When I was raising 3 teenagers and a baby they still made me gag. Family Circus sucks shit. BTW–I’m not an over-producer. I married a man with full custody of his 3 kids and I only had one. Well, we also “adopted” a fifth, but that was when he was 21. It’s safer that way, because you know how they’re going to turn out.

    Back to the post: I hate The Family Circus as much as Ken hates the LA Times.

  46. I actually made TWO winter vegetables recipes this weekend that I read in a syndicated “column” from the Chicago Tribune. Yay Asiago Cauliflower and Eggplant Salad!

  47. [re=239033]iolanthe[/re]: “And what the *hell* will I use to sheet compost my garden now, huh? Answer me that!”

    Exactly. The problem is, when I use the CSM on the garden, I keep coming across articles I meant to read, which really slows down the mulching process.

  48. One point I’ve heard in favor of print journalism is that they generally do fact checking, which blogs often (?) don’t seem to bother with. It’s a puzzlement in my mind — I like blogs because they report stuff and ask questions that the establishment media is afraid to confront. But I like print journalism because they actually believe in the concept of fact checking as opposed to alcohol-soused, sex-obsessed, gratuitous ranting and raving. Are we degenerating into a brave new world of information dissemination where ranting substitutes for journalism and fact checking is implemented by blogs shouting at each other? Let’s have a shout-off between Rush Limbaugh and Wonkette! Winner gets to call themselves “keeper of the true truth!”

  49. [re=239217]DustBowlBlues[/re]: [re=239234]DustBowlBlues[/re]: I’m confused. You’re a lady who pees a lot, while standing up reading a newspaper? Not that I’m judging you or anything.

  50. [re=239042]jagorev[/re]: ” Slowly, as we lose these institutions for controlling the masses, they might start trying to think for themselves, and that would be a disaster”

    Exactly. Anyone who lives in rural OK knows how scary that would be. Though if we have to start sacrificing newspapers, can I please offer The Oklahoman (ask any newspaper person–it’s the worse major daily in the nation) first? I con’t use it for mulch, because I can’t stand to take the risk my innocent eyes might accidentally read a few lines from the ugly, poorly-written, right-wing rag.

  51. Do we really want to continue to receive information from journalism majors?

    If I could donate 35 cents a day to help kill newspapers I would. And I would not miss them a bit except… shit… how am I gonna house train this puppy?

  52. But…but…righteously canceling the paper gives me a satisfying little buzz!

    BTW: Why is video-guy standing so far to the right? (I couldn’t watch past 1:30.)

  53. [re=239137]Guppy06[/re]: One question about Google News: All the references point you to newspapers, online. If there are no newspapers, where will the content come from?[

  54. [re=239330]DustBowlBlues[/re]: the issue of actually reporting news is a problem. No one has quite solved it. TPM does some, but relies on AP and McClachy for most. Plus local newspapers. No easy solution.

  55. I read in the Columbus Dispatch today that Andy Card hates Obama because he doesn’t wear a suit jacket. At first I thought they had added a “1 Week Ago” section to the “Today in History” column, but, sadly, no.

    (The Dispatch almost had an exclusive — only 4 articles on this show up in Google news.)

  56. I got kicked out of my newspaper job for having a “bad attitude” (too smart, people hate standards and ideas). Having been abused by various newspapers and their editors and (ugh!) “scribes” for decades, I take unspeakable delight in the imminent death of all of them. I plan to have this Ken post bronzed forever.

  57. … it is time to put Goatee McStupidBeard off center in the frame. It is time randomly change the lighting settings in this Youtube video for no apparent reason. It is time to use glamor shot backgrounds without any sense of irony…

  58. Newspapers always struck me as incredibly grown-up, which is why I never subscribed. That kind of daily morning ritual would mean that I would have to be awake, and even lucid.

  59. I’m a pet owner. I realize there are plenty of blogs that beg to be used as crap wrappers but computers are not that cheap, yet. Newspapers are irreplacable!

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