NYC -- The New York Times announced today it is laying off 4% of its workforce -- all its reporters. Long considered America's "Newspaper of Record" the publisher announced the Times would henceforth rely on unnamed government sources, opinion and editorial, and of course, its wicked crossword puzzles.
After the Times bought the Bush administration's story about Iraqi WMD's hook line and sinker, some Times reporters asked, "Why bother paying reporters if all the Times is just going to be a mouthpiece for Rove?" Apparently, management was listening, as reporters at the Times are now history. The advertising department and Management were "unaffected" by the layoffs, according to the publisher.
According to an unnamed spokesperson at Editor & Publisher magazine, the face of journalism is changing. Internet viewers are more interested in tarted-up, sensationalized news about supermodels than they are about, say, the history of funeral dirges in New Orleans. TheSpoof.com veteran reporter Wade Nelson recently reported on how changes are affecting traditional evening (television) newscasts in the article CBS News -- It's A Changin' which received scant viewership compared to, say, his article about Kate Moss in a completely fabricated story about a menage' a quattro.
The New York Times picked a "peculiar" time to lay off all it's reporters, according to industry analyst Jason Blair. "Last week they announced that editorial and opinion would no longer be free on the web, that viewers would have to pay $49.95 a year for what he calls "regurgi-news" -- opinions about news and newsmakers, and the paraphrasing of news reported on by others.
Blair, who [full disclosure] moonlights as a fact-checker for TheSpoof.com, argues that readers today DEMAND what Truman Capote would called non-fiction news -- stories embellished, made more interesting, with quotes from non-existant sources that tear at the heartstrings. And Photoshopped pictures. "The competition is too fierce, and the time too short just to report the facts, ma'am."
Is the Internet to blame? Page views, eyeballs, ratings and rankings may indeed be driving "good news" out with "bad news"-- the sensational overwhelming the true, but only slightly interesting.
While the Internet, in theory, offers infinite opportunity to revise and improve a story, and add facts suggested by readers, in comments and posts, in fact, most stories get posted, ranked, and then buried faster than newspapers became bird cage liner. "It's the speed of delete, said E&P's unnamed, but highly placed & influental (trust me) spokesperson.
Leonard Bernstein, half of the dynamic duo that uncovered the Watergate scandal that eventually led to President Nixon's resignation, who went on to lead a major Phil Harmonica orchestra, had this to say about today's newsroom: "It's all about fear. Corporate media owners are no longer willing to stand up to the White House. Say something negative, and your reporter is kicked out of the briefing room, while some loser from Fox continues to lob softballs at Scott (McClellan.) How can you play in a game rigged so that access is denied anyone who asks the hard questions.
To be fair, the Bush administration, by way of FEMA, has indicated that "out of work, and out-of-luck reporters are more than welcome to camp out at the Astrodome, recently vacated by Hurricane Katrina refugees. "It's the least we can do, said former FEMA head Michael Brown."
The publisher of the Times indicated he had a cake containing hacksaw blades sent to [former] reporter Judith Miller, still in jail, along with a note informing her of her layoff. Ms. Miller's decision to protect her source has become a moot point, at this point, according to legal analysts, since she's no longer a reporter. Unless she were to suddenly become a priestess or MD, and hence able to claim patient confidentiality, it looks like she's going to have to give Rove up for good.