All the news that fits, we print (part five)

While we were amusing ourselves with rich people who trade our newspapers, websites and magazines like po’ folks do tips for making a tasty stew from a handful of weeds, a sheaf of unpaid bills and the family pet, a friend who works for The New York Times wrote to note that another round of buyouts is in progress, the fourth in five years, to be followed by layoffs if enough employees don’t take them.

In other words, jump or be pushed.

“Merry Christmas,” notes my friend, sourly. Indeed.

Things appear even grimmer in Cleveland, where the staff of The Plain Dealer is fighting back against cuts planned by Advance Publications by taking their case to the paper’s dwindling readership. They’ve produced a TV ad, created a Facebook page and plan a “Save The Plain Dealer” party on Thursday at the Market Garden Brewery and Distillery, co-owned by ex-paperboy Sam McNulty. The New York Times reports that the brewery is releasing a new beer, 7-Day Lager, which it says is “best when enjoyed daily, because one a day keeps ignorance at bay.”

Advance has already cut back several papers to three days per week, among them the storied Times-Picayune in New Orleans. With that in mind, McNulty invited Steve Newhouse, chairman of Advance’s pixel pirates, to join the party. Newhouse would not say whether he would attend, though McNulty offered to underwrite the trip.

However, Newhouse did say that the company was “working to develop a localized approach that will allow us to continue to fulfill our commitment to quality journalism in an increasingly digital world,” adding, “I support the work of our team in Cleveland and have passed on your input to them.”

This, of course, is chairman-speak for “Fuck you.” Eschew obfuscation, Stevie old scout. In other words, speak (and deal) Plain-ly.

• Late update: Also going tits-up: The Daily, Rupe Murdoch’s iPad-only daily “newspaper.” Nieman Journalism Lab takes some lessons from its surprisingly successful failure.

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9 Responses to “All the news that fits, we print (part five)”

  1. Chris Says:

    Wow. Looking forward to Parts 6-6,000 in the ongoing saga of depressing newspaper news.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We are on something of a roll here, eh? I was planning a segment on faux-Irish frites-eaters of the French persuasion who keep retiring from newspapers while somehow managing to remain employed there. Care to comment? On the record, of course. …

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Buy in with a few bucks, mostly borrowed, rack up company debt while taking profits and fees, sell the company or take it bankrupt, dump pension fund shortfalls on the taxpayer, then bail out with big profits and no losses. Pay your investors and take a big bonus. See Patrick, I read those links you insert. Guess the guy with the vehicle elevator is coming to a town near you until the places to pillage run out. If you need a good business model, eat a Cliff bar and wash it down with a Fat Tire.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Amazing, isn’t it, Pat? I read through the various corporate bios (Corporations are people, my friend!) and those of the humans who attend them and I wonder whatever happened to people who actually, you know, like, uh, do stuff?

      It kinda reminds me of Richard Pryor discussing one of his ex-wives’ demands for a largish share of his income: “Bitch ain’t told nary a joke!”

  3. John Borstelmann Says:

    O’Grady, your analysis of cycling and the crazy world of news media is not only the most incisive I ever read, it’s also the funniest. I’ve enjoyed your cartoons and writing for several decades; keep it up, man! We desperately need to laugh during these dark days of predatory “disaster capitalism.” I can’t ride my bike all the time, so the rest of the time I enjoy reading, highlighted by your insights. Many thanks! I owe you some beers, big time.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, thanks, John. As usual, I’m just making it up as I go along, but I’m glad someone’s laughing (besides the libel lawyers rubbing their manicured hands together, thinking about next year’s BMW, that is).

      It’s either laugh or cry some days, and I’d rather laugh. And beers help.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    All this reminds me of a conversation with an educator in the MBA field. We were talking about successful businesses and this guy kept going on and on about growth, scaling-up, blah, blah, blah. I asked what he thought of a business that provided a decent living to those who enjoyed working there, including the owners? His response well indicated the strategies outlined above – it’s all about MONEY, preferably taking it out of the customers and workers pockets and putting it into the bank accounts of owners and investors – nothing much was said about actually working or creating anything and ZERO was said about enjoying the actual business itself. This mentality explains a whole lot of what’s screwed up about guy’s like Uncle Mitty.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s pretty clear that I know bupkis about bidness. For instance, I’ve never understood why a company can’t muddle along providing products/services to its customers and a living for its employees and owners. Nossir, there has to be growth, and plenty of it! The latest obfuscatory term appears to be “organic growth,” which must be some fresh bullshit they teach MBAs right after Fuck the Workers 101.

      “Get big or get out,” the wiseguys say. But as Ed Abbey famously noted, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        I agree totally! But then again I’ve not no MBA. We know that CycleItalia’s reputation would be ruined if we scaled the thing up and hired all kinds of employees. We might make more money but we’d then just be like most of our competitors, the ones I joke no longer are involved in running any tours, they just stay home and count the money! Early on we had a client who prided herself in joining tours (David R. will remember this lady) when the owners were actually running the tours so she could say “I was there when Mr. X still ran things”…figuring all of the successful ones would eventually scale up to where the founder/owner no longer was on site. I swore we’d NEVER do this but she told me ALL the others had and we would too. Guess that’s why I’m just happy and not rich? But I never wanted to sit around and count the loot, I’d rather be ON the tours!

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