Front page sale

Look out, dear readers, for this post may soon be appearing on the front page of a Tribune newspaper, just as soon as I save up enough cash to approach Sam Zell.

For it seems only cash, or a few of my dear (two) readers packed on a focus group, or waiting for a key editor to take a vacation is the only thing preventing me from grabbing some front page space on the L.A. Times or the Chicago Tribune.

The newspaper industry never fails to surprise me in finding ways to kill off its already dying industry more rapidly. While Gannett and especially the execrable Journal Register Co. top the list in treating its workers worse than rats, the Tribune company bears special mention for consistently failing its readers.

To wit, the Chicago Tribune’s grand idea to have its readers essentially write and edit the paper through the ol’ focus group model:

“Reporters at the Chicago Tribune say they believe the marketing department in recent weeks solicited subscribers’ opinions on stories before they were published, a practice they said raises ethical questions, as well as legal and competitive issues.”

But that’s OK. At least the Chicago Trib wasn’t printing a “Southland” story on its front page, like its sister paper.

It’s no wonder the ex-Governor Blagojevich thought he could get some Chicago Tribune writers fired. Because the Trib company seems to have lost its moral compass, it must have seemed a plausible idea to Blago’s people.

And nevermind that focus groups helped bring down Gannett with its McNugget journalism ways. When you consistently demonstrate to your readers that you don’t trust your own professionals to make news decisions, how does that make your product a worthwhile purchase? Sorry, but I’m not going to a doctor who tells me he asked 10 patients yesterday for advice on what to prescribe me.

The long, protrated death of newspapers makes me very sad. If this continues to be part of the industry’s death throes, however, its time to sign the DNR order.

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