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More Death Rattles of the (Very) Old Media

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Watching Eleanor Clift on yesterday’s McLaughlin Group as I flew back from D.C. to the west coast, I felt like I was watching a rerun of “I Love Lucy.” Example: Even before the avian flu arrives anywhere on the globe, Clift assure us, the president has failed to prepare America, and if a disaster strikes, it will be his fault.

I return home to find Los Angeles Times’ tuba Tim Rutten’s weekly rumble about the glories of old media and the unfair assault under which it suffers includes these lines:

Another prominent blogger and radio talk-show host dismissed Keller’s argument as “filler piffle” and asserted that his defense of Priest, Risen and Lichtblau failed to recognize that reporters “may not participate in espionage against the United States.”

Rutten is referring to and very selectively quoting from posts from this blog made on May 2, 2006 at 6:06 AM and 3:53 PM but he doesn’t name me or point his readers to the posts, each of which contain many links to original sources and legal experts essaying on the controversy at hand.

A corollary to Hiltzik ethics, that: Never allow the reader to judge for themselves whether press tubas or their critics have the better arguments. Be sure not to point readers to original sources so they can judge for themselves the arguments that, of ocurse, reveal Rutten’s analysis not only to be silly but flat wrong on the law.

Partisan alarmism (see Clift) plus distorted reporting and disingenuous presentation (Rutten) pretty much sum up the state of old media these days. It is no wonder that very very few Americans trust the dinosaurs to make it out of their swamps. Any of them over 50 seem simply incapable of changing to the style of the new media which is transparency first, disclosure of bias second, and argument third.

I can’t seem to find Eleanor Clift’s age on the web, or Rutten’s, but I suspect both began their media careers in the Vietnam/Watergate era, a time in which media folk became convinced –no matter their particular distribution of talents– of their collective moral superiority, their obvious intelligence, and the divine right of columnists/pundits.

Unfortunately for them, the general reaction these days is not anger, or even laughter. It is a yawn and a click or (increasingly rarely) a turn of the page.

Note to Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet: Do you encourage, discourage, or simply not care about editorial practices such as Rutten’s, designed to make it more difficult for your readers to decide such matters for themselves? It is low grade deception, is it not?

UPDATE “LA Times Circulation down 17.9% in Two Years”

Old media doesn’t lile to listen to its critics. Will it listen to its ex-customers? Will shareholders demand management listen to ex-customers?

UPDATE 2: Drudge has the numbers:

Circulation for Top 20 Newspapers in USAMon May 08 2006 08:55:53 ET

Here it is. The paid weekday circulation of the nation’s 20 largest newspapers for the six-month period ending March 31, 2006.

1. USA Today, 2,272,815, up 0.09 percent
2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,049,786, down 1 percent
3. The New York Times, 1,142,464, up 0.5 percent
4. Los Angeles Times, 851,832, down 5.4 percent
5. The Washington Post, 724,242, down 3.7 percent
6. New York Daily News, 708,477, down 3.7 percent
7. New York Post, 673,379, down 0.7 percent
8. Chicago Tribune, 579,079, up 0.9 percent
9. Houston Chronicle, 513,387, down 3.6 percent
10. The Arizona Republic, 438,722, down 2.1 percent
11. Newsday, Long Island, 427,771, down 2.7 percent
12. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., 398,329, up 0.9 percent
13. San Francisco Chronicle, 398,246, down 15.6 percent
14. The Boston Globe, 397,288, down 8.5 percent
15. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 365,011, down 6.7 percent
16. Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, 362,964, down 2.9 percent
17. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 350,457, down 5.1 percent
18. Detroit Free Press, 345,861, up 0.04 percent
19. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, 343,163, down 1.6 percent
20. St. Petersburg Times, Florida, 323,031, down 4.4 percent


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