Print news is today, evolved into an oxymoron. Television, radio and the Internet have pushed aside newspapers, handicapped by their slooow deadlines; their news is obsolete on arrival. Advertisers once the newspaper mainstay have long deserted for more immediate media on cell phones, websites and so on. So, whats’s a poor surviving n newswriter to do?
We examined our city’s one significant newspaper front page of April 22nd. The lead headline was: “End of course exams not sure things for APS.” Locals know that the teachers’ unions are dead set against the (currently Republican) Governor’s education reforms. Some parents have been recruited into having their kids boycott the State’s new tests, which (here’s the rub) will provide results used in teacher evaluations over the unions’ very undead body. The idea of teachers being evaluated upon their actual work product is anathema. (The horrer!)
The front page feature story, with a quarter page photo, is: “A WALK IN THE WOODS FOR WHEELCHAIR USER.” Though totally devoid of news value, it is brimming with compassion.
The right hand news story is: “Begay claims Navajo Presiency.” The election of a new boss for the Navajo Nation was fraught; finally a court had to decide whether a popular candidate would be allowed to run: He didn’t speak Navajo fluently enough, a Navajo constitutional requirement. He was in the end, disqualified. New President Begay speaks Navajo fluently enough. A businessman, he may even do the tribe some good. (But in Indian Country, he’ll have to take on the entire U.S. Federal Government to do so.) Our opinion, naturally.
Beneath that story, the bottom of the page contained: “City Council not ready to OK contractor for police monitor.” The local courts and the Federal Department of Justice have pounced upon the city police force, objecting not so much to the dead bodies piling up from police shootings, but to the ensuing negative news coverage. The city agreed to monitoring to lower the heat.
Now, (we assume) the politicians are fighting over the lucrative monitoring contracts to be awarded. Our New Mexico was founded by highly corrupt Spanish governors and has stayed in character, as we see it. Of course the newspaper isn’t so crass as to say that out loud, but that’s how we interpret “not ready” in the story head.
Finally, the left side of the bottom of the front page is headed: “New WIPP head was boss at site of 2011 leak.” Locals will know that “WIPP” is the New Mexico site for what amounts to permanent storage of Federal radioactive waste. Locals will also recall that a couple or three years back, an embarrassing leak of such waste contaminated the site. No one has yet been pinned to responsibility, suggesting that political bigwigs are involved. The Albuquerque Journal is reminding New Mexicans that the newly promoted boss of the whole shebang was the guy in charge of the leak when it occurred. Maybe a couple of old-time journalists remain, under cover. (We hope that if so, they are quick at recognizing drones overhead.)
Evidently our newspaper is trying to stay alive covering local stuff ignored by the national and Internet media. That seems to us a worthy task. Whether it will engage enough advertisers, time will tell.
We note with some chagrin that the local audience is too small to engage many large advertisers. We note too, that the local political powers are unlikely to be happified by such front pages as we have just outlined for you. Sycophancy is much preferred, whether by Democrats or Republicans. We noted an Internet story today that denigrating Russian government is now illegal there. Again. Plus ca change’ …
While we may enjoy at least some present print news, that seems to resemble being attracted to an Ebola victim. The only news source with genuine long term prospects appears to be the Internet. And you likely haven’t notice, but the FCC, the FTC and the FEC have just taken control of the net. With so far, no real peep from Congress. Plus ca change’ … Oh, sorry, we already said that.