Monday, April 09, 2018

1929 Rebellion at the Denver Post

The before and after staff pictures were taken in 2013 and earlier this month. There, in two photographs you can see the staff cutbacks at the 125-year-old Denver Post newspaper, which serves an area of 700-thousand people in Colorado.

It’s not unique.  But the staff response to it is.  On Sunday, April 8th, the paper’s editorial director published a series of op-ed pieces about the takeover of the paper by the New York based venture capital company, Alden Global Capital.

The headline: “As Vultures Circle.”

The Post is to fire more people today.

This kind of rebellion is growing at other papers, large and small, as big corporations take them over and gut them.

But lately it shows signs of pandemia.

Yes, it’s a tough business. Yes, the internet has forced readership away from print. Yes, advertising revenue has shriveled everywhere from the mighty New York Times to the puny Centre Daily Times of State College PA.  

Yes, many in the news business consider it a calling rather than a job and maybe it isn’t.

Here’s one thing for sure:  You don’t want to be Chuck Plunkett this morning.


Plunkett is the editorial page editor. And he is the mastermind of this.  As of this writing, he’s a hero in the newsroom. Monday, the vulture capitalists 1800 air miles due east will have picked his carcass.

In some ways, this rebellion carries the vibe of students rebelling against the food in a middle school cafeteria.  In other ways it has the vibe of when a priest visits prison to walk the death row inmate to the gurney.

The rebels can’t win.  They couldn’t win at Aviation Trades High School Cafeteria, where the food still is worse than what the kids will get when they’re adults and working for an airline. The priest can’t crimp the tubes running into the arm of the inmate.  And the staff of the Denver Post can’t win against the moneybags and MBAs at the vulture capital firm because to them, a newspaper is like a news stand or a widget wholesaler only bigger and less portable.

Big important papers sometimes find sugar daddies.  The Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and to go back to ancient times, the New York Herald Tribune are examples.

So, to the rebels: Polish your resumes.  And your job jargon.  Learn these phrases: “You want fries with that?” “Welcome to Wal-mart.” “Shine, Mister?” “Thank you for choosing Uber.” “High, I’m Marty and I’ll be your server.”  “Hey, baby, want a date?”

--To what do we owe this stunner?  Nancy Grace is back on TV, with a live audience that applauds as she and Dan Abrams evaluate and debate “big” cases.  A&E has also put another failed prosecutor on, but Marcia Clark is at least tolerable and doesn’t cause the TV to vibrate like it wants to jump off the wall-mount.

For further reading on Ms. Grace, click Here for earlier thoughts on Gracenoxious from July 2016.

“The most alienated among us load up on weapons and express their soul-sickness in blood. Finland, Norway and Denmark are not without problems, but researchers say what sets the happier nations apart is the premium their cultures place on the time spent in nature and in harmonious, intimate contact with friends and family.”  --Editor-in-chief William Falk of The Week magazine on growing alienation Americans feel.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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