Friday, September 02, 2011

Tomb Or Opportunity?

"Save the Star!" is the rallying cry of the website; some might find that a little self-serving but it's more like self-interested, since the site's set up and run by The Newspaper Guild, the union for the Indianapolis Star's reporters and others. Hey, no paper, no union dues, they'd be insane if they weren't concerned. (Indiana's not a right-to-work state, if you were wondering; that union card is a prerequisite).

The paper's owner, the notoriously tightfisted, newspapers-as-a-business Gannett, has indeed been cutting and hacking away at jobs. The most recent casualty I know of was the guy who covered the auto industry and manufacturing; given the way those jobs have been fleeing Marion County and the surrounding doughnut counties, it's an open question just how much work there was for him: "Yup, the plants are still closed," week after week, doesn't make headlines.

If there's less to report and if subscribers are fleeing (to the 'net and TV, it appears) in droves, an outfit like Gannett, honed in small, lean markets, is going to follow it all the way down, figuring there'll be a bottom and betting it'll either be profitable to operate -- or profitable to sell. (At least the hardware? "Hey buddy, wanna buy a web press?" "No, thanks, got all my money tied up in buggy whips!")

But when The Guild tells us, "Those of us who remain are finding it harder to provide the news you need, the stories you want to read and the information you expect," it sounds like a call to preserve a museum, kind of an inky Conner Prairie. (Ha! Should'a thought of that before they ditched the Linotype!) Like the tomb of Tutankhamen, pickled under glass, safe from the admiring breath of tourists and the touch of common hands....

But if there's news people need going unreported, if there are stories they want to read languishing unleaded on hard drives and thumb drives or in reporter's skulls, if hoi polloi* are expecting information and not finding it --

Why, what those poor rubes need is a newspaper. A real-live, chock-fulla-news newspaper! Right here in Circle City!

And you know who could put 'em together a pretty darned good, low-overhead newspaper? Why, a bunch of out of work reporters and copy editors and photographers! Oh, if only they had some kind of a way to organize, out from under the heavy thumb of a profiteering corporation with nasty evil investors; if only they had some kind of syndicate. Or a Guild....

If only. In other news, you would not believe where pigs are flying out of before that'll happen. No you would not. My goodness won't that be uncomfortable. (Might be worth it if they did, though -- why should newspapers go gentle into the good night, put to sleep like a stray? Get out there and run. It might not work, it probably won't work; at least the industry would die on its feet.)
* You know WTH is old Greek for "the?" Hoi. Oi! I ain't sayin' it twicet and you shouldn't expect me to.


Bubblehead Les. said...

Tomb. Unless they get some of that there Obama Money.

Carl-Bear said...

Yeah, and we saw how well that stimulus money worked for assorted solar companies.

Haven't been in Indy for many years, but from what I recall, losing the Star isn't going to be much of a loss.

Roberta X said...

'Strewth, Carl -- in which case, they're a sitting duck for some hotshot to start up a real paper!

Haven't seen anyone steppin' up, though. They could even start an online news site, first....

Keads said...

Oh, The CWA! I have nothing but contempt for them! I had screaming matches with stewards here WAY back when while working for Western Electric. We are a right to work state. The browbeating for me to join was profound.

Congratulations CWA local 3060, Western Electric North Carolina Works. You priced yourself out of a job oh, about two decades ago!

Sorry, I'm stepping off of the soapbox now.

Frank W. James said...

It's hard for me to be sympathetic to a Union, but then Gannett has done more to kill newsprint than anything a Union could do.

All Gannett newspapers avoid controversial writers and editors like a politician does term limits. If you have ever compared Gannett newspapers on the same day, THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.

I miss the old Indy Star when they had real sports writers like Bob Collins. Now what we get from Gannett makes Mickey D's look like fine dining...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Comrade Misfit said...

OT, but did you see that your former mayor lost his cushy job with Mike Bloomberg for a little episode of wife-beating?

og said...

Used to love newspapers and the newspaper business. My exe's father was a photog for the old Tribune, and it was always cool to follow him through the pressroom up into his offices and watch the big webs running flat out, in the days before offset printing. Who knew one day that would all go away?

Roberta X said...

EB: and that sordid news about a New York City deputy mayor would be related to this post how, exactly?

I figure Bloomberg and his filthy political ilk get dumped on enough for their public efforts to restrict the people's constitutionally-protected rights and I knew the Left could be counted on to go for the throat on this grotty domestic mess with weasel-like focus and intensity.

No physical evidence of actual beating, btw. Goldsmith was something of a dick as a mayor and if Mrs. G would simply keep herself armed, this would soon become a self-solving problem.

EB, it's good of you to drop by and add your Democrat perspective but I would goddam appreciate it if you would A) stay on topic and B) stop assuming I'm a Republican -- or particularly loyal to any stinking hack who puts on an elephant mask for the polls. My interest in that party is limited to the better part of their grassroots and the rare Barry Goldwater or Ron Paul, who somehow slips through the neutering.

Art said...

Reminds me of the '80's when Chicago Trib typesetters went out on strike when Trib typesetting went electronic.
"form the picket line in front of the buggy whip factory!"

Comments; somehow slips through the neutering.
Said neutering bein done in a dusty, red state corral, by a classic Slim Pickens charecter ... "Whoa there! Easy fella! Hang on to him, Buck .. (snip)"