Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Really, We're Supposed to Lament the Passing of PostMedia? We'll be Worse Off For It?
A moderately well known political pundit, sometime newspaper columnist and blogger recently lamented the approaching demise of the PostMedia group of newspapers.
I don't begrudge him his lament. Papers of that quality are, after all, the genre that occasionally fed him as he so regularly reminds us. Did you know that, in an age long past, he actually worked for a prime minister too? Yeah, that one, the prime minister who handed Stephen Harper the throne thanks to that sponsorship scandal. Oh well, bygones, bygones.
What I found a good bit disingenuous about his kid glove treatment of PostMedia was his scolding of those who can't quite bring themselves to tear up at the prospect. We don't appreciate, he claims, how the loss of a newspaper is an assault on our democratic liberties which, logic would suggest, means the collapse of the whole rotten lot must surely consign us to the bilges of tyranny. We are unworthy of his like.
There's a problem with this fellow's argument. It's not true. History tells us as much. It's not the presence or absence of newspapers, many in number or few, that matters nearly so much as how they're owned and controlled.
In the 30s, Germans never lacked for newspapers. Those newspapers didn't stop a certain movement's rise to power. A good many of them abetted that and, afterward, there was no shortage of ink carrying the Fuhrer's message either even to the end. There are many similar examples from other places at other times of this very same phenomenon.
Of course today it's more than newspapers. It's TV and radio also and the internet. SUN TV is blessedly gone but let's take its American idol, FOX News. Does anyone imagine that American democracy would be dealt a body blow if the management, cast and crew of FOX instantly disappeared from the face of the Earth, Raptured up if you will? Would America be left with a more poorly informed electorate less capable of exercising their democratic franchise? I'm just not feeling it.
There's even less room for bad journalism these days. The advertising bucks, they ceaselessly remind us, are spread too thin what with people seeking real information from other sources, electronically. Boo-hoo. Sorry, I'm still not tearing up, not even a little. Maybe it's the duct or something.
The thing is I go online to get what I can't get from PostMedia. I go to get reliable information. PostMedia, which massively dominates the print media in my part of the country, long ago figured out that they could replace information with something else. Messaging became their stock in trade. Let's call it information with one of the legs shortened. You get the idea.
Do I fear the passing of PostMedia? Not in the slightest. Yes there will be jobs lost, dislocations but that happens in every failing industry. I will admit that I would be delighted to see some of their more phobic ranters where they belong in a new life, sitting in their rockers on the front porch yelling at the Future to get the fuck off their lawns.
I like to cook, especially for others. It doesn't happen often but, every once in a long while, I'll discover something went very wrong. Maybe the cream was off, something like that. When that happens I don't try to fix it, mask the rancid ingredient. I just throw it out and start again. That might be a useful approach when it comes time to dispose of PostMedia.