Some newspaper thoughts

First, congratulations to Lord Black on a small victory before the Supreme Court. Lord Black ran Hollinger and has faced some persecution by the US government over allegations he cheated shareholders. You can read more about the Supreme Court’s decision in a story below. But one important point about Black, he was a successful newspaperman.

According to Mark Steyn at NRO, “For the rest of us, it’s worth noting that, even before the industry’s recent difficulties, very few people know how to run newspapers. Conrad did. The Chicago Sun-Times, The National Post and the Southam papers in Canada, the Telegraph Group in London, and many others are all worse without him.”

Running a newspaper takes a combination of talents. You must control expenses without alienating your employees. Perhaps most important of all is finding the right gearing ratio; if you have too much debt it will strangle your operation, and this can be a major problem in publishing today.

Second, did anyone notice a Washington Post blogger resigned after saying some mean things about the conservatives he was supposed to cover? (see story here.)

I’ve said before and will continue to say that media bias is a serious problem. Reporters fail to represent (or reflect) the public. If you look at research into the views of the media, it shows liberals tend to dominate. What troubles me the most is not the political divide, but rather the cultural divide. The 2008 Pew Research Center released its survey of Journalists and revealed only 8 percent of journalists attended church or synagogue every week. Conversely, over 40 percent of the adult population attended church or synagogue weekly based on research from groups like Gallup and Barna. When reporters are so much more liberal and so much less religious than the general population, how can they deliver a product worthy of a democracy?

Finally, this was reported last week on al.com, “The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and The Huntsville Times an¬nounced Wednesday they will coordinate some political and sports coverage through the creation of shared bureaus.”

Need more proof that these newspapers are dying?

Why are they facing a shrinking readership and reduced advertising?

They aren’t delivering a product people want to read. Again, look at the two issues mentioned earlier in this post—the two things critical to newspaper success. These two things are good leadership and quality staff that reflects the people the newspaper serves. Does anyone believe these failing newspapers have good leadership? The Birmingham News is now run by an Auburn fan. Does anyone believe the staff reflects the sports values of the public?

Does anyone believe this coordination will result in better coverage of the Alabama Crimson Tide?