Over at Splice Today, Russ Smith argues that Graydon Carter, the longtime editor of Vanity Fair, is out of it regarding the causes and ramifications of the ongoing demise of print media. And Carter's proposed solution, laid out in his recent Editor's Letter in VF, is similarly off.
In a pro forma remark, Carter repeats the mantra that the "health and vigor" of newspapers is vital to the country's well-being, if only to keep "a watchful eye on corrupt politicians and venal corporate overlords." I'm sure that the dwindling number of employees at the Tribune Co., publisher of The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, among other properties, would nod heartily at Carter's "venal corporate overlords" dig, if they weren't too busy looking for work elsewhere to read Vanity Fair.
And this doozy: "I would also hope you feel that the loss or even weakening of the nation's principal daily, The New York Times, would mark an end to life as we know it." I've read the Times every day for most of my life-starting at the age of seven or so-but in the past year that frequency has diminished dramatically, and frankly, I'm no worse for wear, let alone having a life-altering experience….
Carter, who doesn't once mention that glossy magazines, including those in the Conde Nast stable that includes VF, are no longer minting money, is undeterred in dispensing pointers to beleaguered reporters and publishers. His go-get-'em guys! slap on the back: "My suggestion to newspapers everywhere is to give the public a reason to read them again. So here's an idea: get on a big story with widespread public appeal, devote your best resources to it, say a quiet prayer, and swing for the fences."
It could be that Carter himself doesn't read, whether out of self-denial or indifference, the volume of stories about the demise of print media, for if he did, he'd know that the "fences" have been moved about a mile further, and no amount of praying will ever bring them closer.
Matt Welch on Vanity Fair's holey archive of its pro-Bush coverage here.