The Columbia Journalism Review, which has been on a bit of a roll, says The Tribune Co., owner of the Sun-Sentinel, should just get the hell out of the newspaper business. Why? Because it sucks and it's getting worse, of course:
"When the Tribune Company orders manpower cuts, publishers and editors either follow through or hit the road. That's the way it works. Yet there can come a Rumsfeld moment, and Tribune has reached it. That's why we'd like to see the company sell itself out of the newspaper business."
Sentinel Editor Earl Maucker has been following through for months for the Rumsfeldian leadership and the newspaper has been deteriorating rapidly. The horrible redesign, the Help Team, the recent community news move, it's all so depressing. And the newspaper's reporters, like tired, beaten soldiers, just sort of sigh their way through it. Damn it's sad.
Tribune VP Gerould W. Kern writes a rather lame response, listing the company's newspaper's recent projects (including the Sentinel's FEMA work). It's almost like the chain makes sure to do one good investigation per year just to counter the prevailing argument that it's going downhill. I feel like Lloyd Bentsen at that debate: "Mr. Kern, I've known good newspaper companies. Good newspaper companies have been like friends of mine. The Tribune is not a good newspaper company, Mr. Kern."
I'll conclude with the end of the CJR piece, which is quite eloquent, really:
"Tribune has great resources, but those resources aren't doing much public good. The company seems less than the sum of its parts. And so, like Rumsfeld, it should go. We'll take our chances with the gaggle of billionaires who are lining up to buy those newspapers. Some of them may turn out to be pirates (see Santa Barbara). But others will be citizens who understand that those dailies are not mere pieces of an economic puzzle but great living institutions rooted in the lives of their cities."
After the jump: I Resemble That Radar Piece
Also plucked from Romenesko is this Radar piece on the writers who blew it in a huge way on the Iraq War but, unlike Judith Miller, have seen their reputations remain strong and their journalism careers flourish.
Now I'm not accusing the fine Radar pub of stealing anything from me -- this is a huge and obvious topic. But I wrote a very similar piece more than a year ago titled "Spreading the Plame."
Radar picks four of the worst offenders; I picked five. Radar excluded right-wingers from the running since they generally march in lock-step. So did I. Radar picked NYT's Thomas L. Friedman and the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg. So did. (I also threw in former Sun-Sentinel editorial editor Kingsley Guy to give it some local flavor. Radar contrasts the ongoing success of these guys with the ruination of Judith Miller's career. So did I. Romenesko picked up the Radar piece. He did mine too.
Again, I'm not complaining. You know what they say about imitation. But I'm just saying.