I have been thinking about the management wizards at Britain’s Telegraph group who managed to drive off Mark Steyn, and wondering if they have levelled with their senior management about what they gave up when they parted ways with Columnist to the World Steyn.
Any media endeavor with an online arm is now engaged in an almost desperate rush to attract the bylines that bring the traffic.
I don’t believe that anyone approaches Steyn when it comes to a loyal audience. There are very few who have his talent, and almost none with his level of productivity.
With such a commodity, the management of the paper ought to be always in the mode of “How do I keep this writer happy?”
But because of the foolish idea that an incremental loss in traffic won’t matter much, individual editors often make decisions to elevate their taste above the tastes of their readership. Over time those decisions push a paper towards the dead zone of dullness that marks, say, the Lost Angeles Times.
Falling out with Mark Steyn is such an incredibly stupid move that it is almost in a class by itself, but sadly it is not. “The State of the Media 2005” report that generated much chatter a few days backs is just the latest in a series of stating-the-obvious essays about the decline of the MSM.
And one of the biggest reasons among many for the accelerating decline of legacy media is that the resentment of center-right talent by left and hard-left editors can no longer silence that center-right talent, only move it to other homes, where the easily transferred readership can find it.