January 13, 2010

Witnessing The Death Of An Industry

In this day and age of dwindling newspaper readership, one would think that the industry would do something to address its impending irrelevance. After all, subscriptions are declining on daily basis, more and more papers are reducing the numbers of editions they publish and some of the nation's leading papers have shut down entirely or are facing bankruptcy. The industry has been hit so hard, many reports state that several cities in the U.S. could be without a daily paper as early as this year.

Still, little changes. The same shoddy reporting, grammatical and misspellings that would turn Daniel Webster over in his grave and the industry's biggest problem has yet to be addressed, the inability to be objective.

Those of us who live in the blogger world don't have these concerns. Me, well I never took a journalism course in my life. And I don't need to be objective. I have an opinion and I voice that opinion. If readers enjoy what I have to say, or feel that a certain insight may be provided that they may not find in the mainstream media, they visit the site. If they're not interested in what I have to say, they don't read it. Frankly, I don't really care. I don't have deadlines or editors to report to, advertisers to appease and I don't rely on the site to generate revenue. I'm just a guy with an opinion and too much time on my hands. If the site has five readers a day or 5000, the pages will still be full. That, in a nutshell, is the beauty of blogging. Newspapers, on the other hand, are supposed to provide a quality product with some semblance of objectivity. Because they have completely failed on both counts, they're on a quick path to extinction.

Take for example yesterday's story in the Buffalo News by Denise Jewel Gee about the City of Niagara Falls using $180,000 in casino revenue to fund six concerts to be run by Hard Rock Cafe and the city's intention to use more casino money to fund events by other groups later this year. Gee goes through the entire piece without mentioning the fact that State Senator Antoine Thompson and State Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte stole a share of the casino revenue from every municipality outside of Niagara Falls and diverted it back to the city because they claimed that each of these municipality's use of the funds violated the terms of the casino compact.

It's not as if this nugget is irrelevant, and it's certainly not as if the paper hadn't covered this issue many times before. So why leave it out now?

Even the Niagara Gazette, which has shown no shame in their unwavering love for DelMonte, has refused to call her or the city out for the city's use of the casino revenue after previously blasting the county for using the money the exact same way the city is using it now. In fact, in an editorial last April, the editors at the Gazette went as far as to thank Delmonte and Thompson for their stealing of the rest of the county's share of the casino revenue and sending it to the Falls, while citing examples of how the county spent its share among the municipalities, as if to condone and reinforce DelMonte's and Thompson's actions. The editorial ended with "Some local state lawmakers don’t believe this type of spending honors how casino cash is supposed to be spent and we agree."

So where are the hypocrites at Greater Niagara Newspapers now that the city is not spending the casino revenue on road repairs, the premise under which the money was taken? Why no commentary? Do they believe that a concert in Niagara Falls is more important than a jazz festival or peach festival in Lewiston? More important than the City of Lockport’s proposed Lockport Harbor and Marina feasibility study? Improvements at Lockport’s Historic Palace Theatre, restoration at the Das Haus museum in Bergholz, as well as Old Fort Niagara, the Aquarium of Niagara, Canal Fest in the Tonawandas and a barbecue contest held by the Eagles Club in the Town of Wheatfield? Because that's where the money went, but they'll never see a dime of that money for their events because Francine DelMonte stole it, sent it to Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, and he is misusing it.

But the papers won't say that. They don't have balls to call out the people who are doing harm to our community, like Dyster, DelMonte and Thompson. They'll continue to wallow in their hypocrisy, hoping that the populace won't catch on. But we have caught on, and we're not interested in being a part of their propaganda machines any longer. That is why they are a dying industry and why alternative media outlets, like Niagara Times, will continue to thrive.


The Avenger said...

One of your best commentaries ever Hobbes. Newspapers and their reporters seem to have no institutional memory of their own opinions. Tom Prohaska is the only guy who seems to have any sense of history and any sense of consistency.

The only saving grace is they have become increasingly irrelevant. There will always be some form of the Buffalo News and, even with its warts, that's good. But Greater Niagara Newspapers could disappear tomorrow and no one would give a damn.

You have to throw some credit to Mike Hudson and the Niagara Falls Reporter for that as well. They recognized there were real stories out there that the big papers were either too incompetent, too lazy and/or too undermanned to cover. The Reporter has broke more real stories than anybody the last few years...important stories that matter.

The Gazette is a bunch of apologists for the so-called local leadership. Hell, they have abandoned covering the county Legislature...what does that say.

Dark Knight said...

Hobbes, this hypocrisy so much reminds me of what is going on across the state right now regarding Harold Ford considering a U.S. Senate run against Kristen Gillibrand.

All the people who said it didn't matter that Hillary was a carpet bagger are now saying Ford has no right to run and the media isn't calling them out on it.

I saw one lawmaker comment that sure it's been done before, but that was by people with the last names of Kennedy and Clinton.

So, if you're some heavy hitter you can carpet bag, but the rest of us have no right?

And again, journalists have become nothing more than stenographers who don't question, don't think, don't dig....they simply take what has been spoon fed.