It’s not the economy, stupid – Part 2

Mark Hamilton on why the “current crisis” in the news business might pay off on the other side of the chasm:

“Even if the American economy turns around in a big way, newspaper health won’t magically improve, because of the internet, demographic and societal changes, etc. But newspaper companies are likely to find that their new, slimmer and leaner-staffed newspapers are giving them something closer to the profitability that they enjoyed in the good old days. Increasing page counts, staff, etc. will interfere with that, particularly as newspapers compete against an ever-growing number of folks seeking to suck up ad dollars.


It’s inevitable that by the time the American economy improves, some of the metros will have figured out how to remake the slimmer, smaller-staffed newspaper work for both readers and advertisers. Those that are successful will provide the template. Out of that comes the reinvented metro daily.”

Read the whole thing.

Four months earlier: It’s not the economy, stupid.

Sometimes reinvention happens out of necessity.

Declare your independence from the curmudgeon tribe

More than a year ago, I wrote a blog post aimed at the curmudgeons in your newsroom.

The ones who prefer hand-wringing editorials to reorganization plans.

The ones who prefer complaining about bloggers to starting a blog.

The ones who prefer whining about Google and craigslist and every other disruptive organization to becoming a disruptive organization.

Jay Rosen has been politely badgering me to update or extend that line of thinking, and although I did a quick one-year-later assessment of where most organizations stand on what I called 10 obvious things, there’s a good dose of generational frustration that’s always been involved in my thinking about newspapers.

Because I didn’t get into this business because I wanted to save the world, or right wrongs, or afflict the comfortable, although those are all laudable pursuits.

I got into this business because I wanted to fix journalism.

And I didn’t get into it that long ago, which means I don’t have the institutional inertia so many organizations are afflicted with.  And it is an affliction.

The status quo is killing newspapers.  Those who would defend it are the curmudgeon class.  But more than that, they are the tribe of Press that Prof. Rosen was talking about a week or two back.

The tribe of curmudgeons — dwindling in number — made their voice heard in the comment thread of a post written by an intern about layoffs and reorganization at a major metro daily newspaper.

The message of the meeting re: layoffs and reorg?
Hard times are here, but we have a plan.

The message of the intern’s blog post?
My boss has a plan, thank goodness, let’s get going.

The message of the curmudgeon tribe in the comment thread?
You naive kid, stick around this business long enough and you’ll be as stubborn and immobile as we are. You’ll never work in this town again.

It’s disgusting.

This is why I got into this business: Because it is broken.  I’d like to help fix it.  But the clock is ticking.

And I have no more time for the tribe of curmudgeons.