Friday, April 29, 2005

WISHFUL NON-THINKING. Lot of death-knells for newspapers lately, and what they have in common -- from the Ole Perfesser's smug solipsism(" does seem as if we're undergoing a major change. I know that I pay less and less attention to newspapers and television...") to Richard Brookhiser's L'Envoi -- is that they're ridiculously premature. U.S. newspaper circulation, as even hostile reports admit, is down maybe about a point -- which means our papers are outperforming the national economy. Hey, maybe America's finished, too!

Certainly this is not a good time to grow rich in journalism, but -- this may shock the libertarians; cover their ears -- often getting rich is not the point. Sometimes the incentive is power. For decades certain gazillionaires (cough Murdoch cough) have been operating their tabs at a deficit just to keep their journalistic hobby-horses alive. 'Twas ever thus. You think James Callender got published on the strength of any fan-base besides Thomas Jefferson?

So why the declarations of irrelevance? Simple. These guys are pushing something called blogging. In this blog thing, some very few make money on ads, but mostly the practice is meant to burnish reputations sufficiently to get the reputees gigs with Media Matters, right-wing radio, or some other venue in a for-profit branch of the Fourth Estate. Some idiots, like myself, do it with only mild recompense from confused Blogad shoppers who perhaps picked a handful of sites from top of an alphabetical list, and some bloggers get nothing from it but the satisfaction of knowing that unseen dozens of bored office workers now know what the blogger had for dinner last night, what sort of stool the dinner engendered, and the blogger's thoughts on Faulkner and the Law of the Sea.

Sounds like quite a revenue stream, eh? Well, maybe, just maybe, if they can get everyone to believe that the Paper is dead, there'll be a reverse Tinker Bell effect. Then those few Americans who still know how to read will come running to Powerlineblog, jettisoning sports, weather, local news, and any other service Powerlineblog cannot deliver, just to be on trend!

It obviously works in politics, their reasoning seems to be; and since everything is politics, why should it not work for me?

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