Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Too Much Fun

It's too close to a holiday to write about the differences among GE, mass transit and newspapers. And it's been, of course, an awful week. Something should be amusing.

There's no comparisons between CB radio and fax machines and the Internet. Those were appliances while the Internet is a medium, if not more. But both of those did grow so far and then were overtaken by a better medium (cell phones and the Internet), but part of the dissatisfaction with them was that they were taken over by junk and cranks. E-mail seems to be having some of the same issues, which is partly why young people largely use it just to communicate with their parents, who have little or no interest in IMs or Facebook.

When the Hartford Courant announced its cuts in Bloody Summer 2008, for some reason I decided to check the comments. Nearly all of them concerned the alleged politics of the Courant, particularly its columnists. There were the usual comments about poor service and outdated medium, but the "Moscow Courant" people were very much in evidence.

Courant editor Barbara T. Roessner wrote a column about the cuts that while not free of the "to better position ourselves for the future" cant at least had a certain self-deprecating humor rare in these spin exercises: "You might discover that a sleeker, smarter paper is actually a better experience on weekdays, when your time and energy are pretty much sapped by your jobs, your families and your $4-a-gallon gas prices. ... Or, I may soon be tending bar in Vermont. We'll see."

So I plunged ahead and started reading the posts. They start off on the usual angles, but poster Greg Boyington of Prospect, Conn. -- let's assume that he actually is Greg Boyington of Prospect, Conn., and just doesn't want to call himself "Liberal Boy" for some archaic reason like credibility -- turns up often, asking for proof of the alleged liberal bias. Poster "Comunistitution State" of Granby, Conn. -- you can see where he is coming from, and it's not just Granby, Conn. -- decides to offer examples. And it's off to the races. If you don't want to read through the whole thing, Page 2 here is particularly fun.

Eventually they get tired of this and others join in, but the discussion stays centered on the alleged politics of the paper and the decline of Hartford, with the occasional comment on poor service. Whatever the politics of the paper, I have trouble imagining 200,000 readers every day saying, "What I hate about this paper is its liberal politics!" Maybe I'm wrong.

Well, I'm sure it's getting eyeballs, even though Google Ads is having trouble figuring out what they might be interested in buying related to this topic -- the best it can come up with is the ironically named "Newspaper Obituaries." Will postings be a sustainable use or will it quickly become a "same old same old" that most readers shy away from after one or two tastings? Who knows. And it's clear that to some of these posters the defining characteristic of the Courant's pinko liberalism is that it writes positive stories about poor and minority people. Not sure what Lenin would think about that, since it's also clear that to some of these readers, the specter that is haunting the world is still communism, which has had about the same success recently as newspapers. ("I'll use the Web site of an outdated medium to condemn an outdated political philosophy!" Ah, the 21st century.)

In any event, if nothing else to honor for Independence Day the robust political debate that the Founding Fathers wanted, spend a minute or two with Greg and Comunistitution.


Scoats said...

I don't see anyway to email you directly. I have been greatly enjoying your blog for a while now. Although this fellow Philadelphian disagrees and thinks the dead tree business is pretty much done.

I'm posting to share with Robert X. Crinley article with you, He makes some good points about the newspaper industry, as well as other things.

Davisull said...

Thanks. I'll add an e-mail address to the page. I've been leery of doing so but I've realized that I've been frustrated also by not being able to e-mail people I have read comments by.