20 Mar 2006

The Cold Draft of Economic Reality

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The Washington Post recently announced that it will be terminating 80 of 870 newsroom positions. It’s too much to hope, I’m sure, that Dana Priest (mouthpiece for the Pouting Spooks) will be among those departing.

WaPo Ombudsfem Deborah Howell looks at the Post’s declining readership (and profits), and tries a little whistling in the dark.

In the future, newspapers probably will be smaller, more expensive and more tailored to readers’ needs. Lavine says newspapers will be fine “if they discover more interesting stories and then tell them in profoundly more interesting ways and then drive all of this by understanding and connecting with their audience — and then use the Net and wireless to expand their ability to provide all of that where, when and how the readers want it.”

There’s one big intangible in all this: a paper’s connection with its readers. Readers who feel respected and who love their newspaper don’t depart easily. If Post journalists write every story, take every photo, compose every headline and design every page with readers in mind, and the newspaper is printed well and delivered on time, The Post will be fine.

It might also help if they covered US wars from a pro-US perspective. Failing to carry political partisanship to the point of jeopardizing national security might cause more readers to “feel respected.” And a less anti-market, less anti-American editorial perspective, one resembling the point of view of normal Americans, rather than that of some French socialist professor of deconstuction might actually make the Post somewhat more widely loved.

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