Friday, March 28, 2008

Premature mourning ...

... Seeing the light, in print.

Maxine is right. Alterman's piece is worth reading - though I confess I haven't got to the end of it yet. But the disappearance of newspapers will hardly mean the disappearance of news. A newspaper is a form of information packaging, as was the illuminated manuscript. The printing press brought about the eclipse of the illuminated manuscript, but caused an explosion of information. The internet is doing much the same to newspapers - and to information. I find newspapers no longer be counted on to provide a reliable take on reality. You have to at least supplement what you find there by going online. Eventually you have to wonder: Why bother with that?

Well, the mourning for newspapers themselves may not be all that premature: NAA Reveals Biggest Ad Revenue Plunge in More Than 50 Years.

Post bumped up.


  1. I still wonder why newspapers don't publish their entire content, ads and all, on the web in a space open to subscribers only. At a cost of, say, 15 cents a day. Go ahead, ask me if I'd pay $50 a year each to get full content online papers from New York, Philly, Chicago and San Francisco?

    Or have I just missed all the ad campaigns for such arrangements? How many online subscribers does it take to keep the book review sections of those pubs up to full employment?


  2. Too obvious, too simple, and too intelligent, Blue.

  3. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Sad but truth, Frank. Beau Blue, I'm with you. Newspapers banish a complex, in-depth, and meaningful version of reality in favour of light, bright, and tight whiz-bang writes. Once exited a job when told my pieces (or any I ran) could no longer exceed two-effing-hunnert-and-fifty words.

    The obscenity of the idea floored me. I hit the roof before I hit the road, laughing all the way to the brink. Impossible, as impossible as the currently popular six-word life-story encapsulation. And, although the section ranked among the most popular (read one of the biggest buyer-bait lures hooking the little fishies), it wasn't earning its keep paying the pappeteers max-o-millions in sexotic adverteasements.

    IMO, publications will survive (in another medium, a digital one congenial to their prosperity, profitz, and efficient proliferation).

    In the not-too-distant, we shall view our "cultural" public past from the vantage / vanishing point of the wistful full-throatal mourner. Nostalgia, n'est-ce pas? Sentimentality versus sentiment. Inevitable and lethal. ISTM we could well become that amorphous seer of McLuhan's impossibly personal rear-view mirror (endlessly distorting our repliconceptions of both our perfect selves and their pathetically misguided others).


    IOW, welcome to the future's future via our fleeting glimpse of hard-copy relics now featuring in the museum of our collective mindset (complete with the remote in control) of our past (imperfect).

    Yes, I argued, peeps see lots of adverts on other pages; plus, IMO (backed by stats), readers buy screwscrapers, er, noisepapers, er . . . Readers plonk down pennies for news on art, culture, and entertaintment; natch, as an additional treat, they're generously gifted with a barrage of moolah-making pages packed with prime-time crime, I-witness reports, sex, drags, whacks, wracks, cracks, sub-slime attacks, the pukifying works. (And, that's just the pimpers of the parasitic pair. We haven't even got [to] "the news.")

    It's all about the currents — electric, electronic, e-tc. — it always comes down to the fact currency's kingpin in the grand scam of things, in the smash-and-grab wham-bam of bling rings, puppeteer strings, and soon-to-be obsolete wring-dings generated by displaying tonnes of pitches motivating consumers to part with their paycheques. Supply and deny.

    Less content, more ads, better-bizthness dynamics. The glamourisation of news includes a concurrent sensationalisation of adverts (which now garner the same kind of interest and presentation as the stuff they wrap).

    When writing the McLuhan bio, a wee fact spin-jumped yours truly right out of her skin . . . Some head honcho @ GM asserted (and, I paraphrase):

    It is imperative we keep the buying public chronically dissastisfied with their current wheels, hairstyles, wardrobes, teethpaste, Laz-E-Bois, wallpaper, et so forthia.

    He made his news-worthy declaration public twelve days before Christmas, 1937.

    BTW, Beau Blue, I'll bite. Would you pay $50 per annum for subscriptions to the newspapers you cite? I dunno. My wild guess would be a resounding YES.

    p.s. I didn't intend to write an essay, FFS. I'm procrastinating on a piece due Monday morning . . .