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The Strib Bankruptcy

Brian Lambert’s latest post on the Strib circling the drain was filed pre-Strib bankruptcy, and prior to his own departure from MSP.

This led to a spate of commenters opining as to the perceived bias of the newspaper.

The question of whether or not there is an ingrained bias in the Strib has little to do with anything. Nor is it particularly instructive. As I’ve stated before, if you have a problem with the Strib’s tilt, start your own newspaper. A more salient question is whether or not the paper is sufficiently compellling to buy and/or read.

Now, to a commenter’s point that, “It has to do with economics and the internet, and a failure to come to terms with that”, I think it oversimplifies and obscures what ails. The Strib has a monopoly on the news (and advertising) business for far too long. As a result of this monopoly, I think that they treated their readers (and advertisers) with contempt. As long as they continued to earn monopoly profits, everything was fine. However, with a monopoly, complacency sets in. Now, with no monopoly pricing power, unsustainable debt and a serious recession, the wheels have come off.

Leaving aside the issues of people losing their jobs (hardly a throwaway), the hand-wringing over the “loss of professional journalism” is getting a bit overwrought. The overweening arrogance and sense of one’s own importance is palpable in many of these laments.

It goes without saying that a free press is essential to our democracy. That doesn’t mean, however, that we as a society are compelled to pay for a newspaper that doesn’t deliver what we need/want. The waxing rhapsodic over the glories of investigative journalism would be more salient if we actually saw compelling investigative journalism. All too often, however, what we see is thin gruel of press conference reportage.

Bill McGuire and United Health has been a convenient target for Lambert and others, but the story of the backdated options wasn’t broken by an intrepid reporter from the paper. If memory serves, it was some obscure professor in Iowa who uncovered this. The Strib has failed to deliver.

While I’m at it, is there anyone else who is at least mildly disappointed in MinnPost? Other than David Brauer reporting on the Strib itself, there’s very little reportage that takes place. What I see is more chin-stroking “analysis”. That hardly seems to be the answer. If it is, the wrong question is being asked.
Since they’re still trying to figure out what they want to do, that’s one thing. Very rarely, however, do I actually learn anything from reading Minnpost.

Why haven’t either the Strib or the SPPP gone tabloid? Go downmarket in search of an audience. I can’t see the grim, sober-minded custodians of the Strib going in that direction, but why not Singleton? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Could it find an audience? Try to New York-Postify the SPPP. It would certainly add some color in a market bathed in gray.

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