From Splice Today, one of the few actual new-media new media sites, comes this interesting Q&A with Michael Wolff, Vanity Fair columnist and founder of Newser ("Read less, know more"):
ST: When do you think the hand-wringing and sighing about the print media's demise, mostly by people over the age of 50 who won't be part of whatever the new media is, will end? I read a lot about the media, but I'm really tired about debates over paid content (as if that isn't a moot question), non-profit newspapers, and the certainty that democracy will go down the drain if newspaper companies don't survive. Do you feel the same way? And do you think this is reasonable mourning or a group session of self-pity?
MW: Newspapers deserve to go out of business. Other than the Times and a few others, newspapers really suck-they do the bare minimum amount of reporting; they mostly get it wrong anyway; and the writing is execrable. News, delivered in digital form, is faster and cheaper, not to mention searchable, redistributable, saveable, and linked to other relevant information. There's no contest here. I would anticipate that almost every urban daily will be in bankruptcy within the year. And within a very short period of time after that almost everyone will act like of course newspapers weren't meant to survive. Indeed, they will become a funny, can-you-believe-they-ever existed idea. (I read today that airlines are more popular than newspapers.) Nobody will mourn, except a few people, like myself, who actually remember what it was like to grow up in a newsroom.
Over a decade ago and right after he wrote Burn Rate, a dotcom bubble memoir, Suck wrote the definitive takedown of Wolff, who is still breathing in a way Suck most surely is not. A snippet:
Wolff has that industry expert spot we've been coveting for years. And we'd be jealous of his success in our chosen field, except that we know he encompasses the Whitmanesque multitudes of journalistic success in ways we never could. In a profession where a second language and an econ minor can put you at the top of your field, a reporter who is also a liar, a narcissist, a blithering incompetent, a self-pitying Sally Anne, and a thief must be some kind of quintuple threat. No wonder Wolff's got such a great future behind him.
And don't forget to watch Reason.tv's latest video, about truly idiotic plans to bail out newspaper with taxpayer money:
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