DiManno attributed the recent death of Earl McCrae, 69, a longtime Ottawa Sun columnist, to the stress of multi-tasking.
"...faced with the multi-tasking demands of our profession in this integrated media era, he’d first filed the online audio version of his story. So I blame Quebecor (the Montreal-based owner of the Sun Media chain) for what was lost to print journalism."
But wait! There's more, according to DiManno. Newspapers owners are also killing the entire newspaper industry, along with their employees. It's quite a read.
DiManno goes on to attack the buyout of the previous publisher of her own newspaper. She also thinks that the "Occupy Wall Street" movement should occupy newsrooms to restore some common sense and old fashioned newspaper values back into the business.
To the barricades!
The former science correspondent of the Globe and Mail, Stephen Strauss thinks this is all tosh. He sent off a missile to the Star which may or may not get published. So in the interest of fairness (and a personal friendship), I reprint here:
This column may well make it into the Why Newspapers Went Extinct Hall of Fame. Its basic argument is that in the year 2011 there is nothing about print newspapers’ futures which cannot be attributed to the greed of publishers and owners. The technological changes that drive readers to read, and listen and view news on-line? A piffle. Flights of advertising to web-based sites? A passing breeze. The rise of a whole set of skills which weren’t required in the past? Don’t get me talking about that.
All of this is tied to a 69-year-old reporter’s heart attack which Rosie, based on nothing as far as I can tell, decides wouldn’t have occurred if he just was trying to meet a print deadline.
What Rosie doesn’t seem to get is that given their druthers, newspapers wouldn’t have changed anything ever. That probably should be EVER. Their old business model was not just comfortably profitable, it was exceeding, exceeding comfortably profitable. A 20 per cent return on equity was often the norm. The “sky is falling scenario” she scorns is a panic based on the realization that what worked in the past isn’t going to work in the future. If people want multimedia information and newspapers only work in one media, reader/viewer/listeners are going to go elsewhere. (And indeed have). If advertisers link up with websites that people go to when actually wanting to buy a product, there is going to be less money to pay her and her like. If bloggers and twitterers and iPhoners put up information for free, paying for a newspaper (maybe) makes no sense.
This is not an imagined crisis. This is what Schumpeter calls creative destruction. But Rosie believes – mainly based on the supposition that she has been doing things a certain way for so long and is so comfortable in working like that that she shouldn’t have to change – today’s news revolution is a conspiracy. She reminds me in this of copyists and scribes who decried the death of beautiful handwriting and page illustration which the printed page brought on. I cannot say that the multi-media expertise news organizations now demand is going to work out in the long run. I cannot say that good writers won’t always be bad video interviewers and vice versa. I cannot say twittering is here to stay. But I can say that Rosie DiManno’s career path is dead. When she talks to the “young’uns” it should be almost apologetically, begging their forgiveness for a work life they are never going to have no matter how much they want it.
I've asked my students to decide whether DiManno or Strauss has it right.