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Our gain was their loss.

I knew Keven. I was less than impressed with her as a columnist, but she was one of the best editorial page editors I've ever met. I'm sure she's doing a bang-up job in Dallas.

I'm sure a few loudmouths are bellowing about this "Arizona hippie" (Anyone who really knows Keven finds that hilarious), but the problems that the Morning News may be having is likely a variant on the problems facing all dead-tree media, including the Republic, Trib and Star here in Arizona.

People like or hate the editorial page, but they buy newspapers for NEWS.

If they can get it for free on the internet, and it doesn't arrive late, or soggy, or lands in their flower bed instead of on their porch, they'll pick the internet.

Newspapers have to figure out a way to generate advertising revenue from internet content. If they fail, they'll wither and die - and that will create a serious void. TV stations and bloggers don't cover the city councils, school boards, P&Z meetings and high school sports unless they have an obsession about a particular issue.

Bloggers do an excellent job of focusing attention on specifics (kudos to Greg, not that his ego needs more feeding), but they can only nibble on the high grass without getting to the roots of a community. (How's that for a mixed metaphor).

I wish Keven well, and I pray that my former profession finds a viable economic model.

It was our gain when Sheryl Sculley left for San Antonio and Keven Wiley left for Dallas.

While Ms. Wiley may be wondering if there is a salary increase in the books for her, Ms. Sculley was given close to a 6% increase in salary a few weeks ago making her one of the highest paid city managers in the US.

City Manager Gets Her Raise
Reported by: Erik Runge
Email: ErikRunge@woai.com
Last Update: 12/06/2007 5:35 pm

City Council members insist City Manager Sheryl Sculley is worth the money. (News 4)

How Much is a City Manager Worth?

Most San Antonio employees got a 2% raise this year. Thursday, our city manager got almost a 6% raise, bringing salary to $275,000 a year.

Source: http://www.woai.com/news/local/


Willey showed her mental lightweightedness many times in Arizona. So, it doesn't surprise that she is even more clueless in Texas.

Suggesting Willey's "leadership" is the reason for the Dallas Morning News' circulation decline is seriously laughable. The reasons for the decline are the same reasons that Greg has regularly outlined here. I seriously doubt that any editorial page editor anywhere has greatly influenced circulation numbers one or the other.

Sonoran Sam nailed it here. The main reason for the decline is that people are choosing a free model that puts news on their computer. If newspapers companies can't figure out a revenue model that works out of that, they will be done -- or just a shell of their former selves.

Greg has effectively outlined that here, but he's also made it clear that he's positively giddy about it. (And his acolytes are, too). Perhaps the day will come that the Republic declares bankruptcy or that it announces it is ceasing print operations and laying off all but the azcentral sales department, a handful of people to post stuff, someone in marketing and another in finance, and a few support personnel. Greg probably then will host a nice party with a "mission accomplished" banner.

But Sam is absolutely correct about what coverage will be lost -- things that aren't sexy enough for bloggers to cover well. For all their foibles and faults, which are many, I'd rather have the newspapers than not. So I'd be careful what you wish for.

jdleslie,

I think the issue here is - what business is any media company in? It is like the old question which the train company forgot to ask - What business are we in? Peter Drucker made millions talking about that question. The train companies forgot they were in the material distribution business not in the train business.

What business is Gannett, the owner of the AZ Republic. in? Is it in the newspaper business? Is it in the communication business? Is in the information distribution business?

Ink on newsprint is one form of communication or information distribution.

I get some of my news via the AZ Republic. I get a lot of it from conversations and emails.

Would I be sad if there was no newspaper on my door? Probably. But like the ending of the milk bottles on my door step, I would find a new way to get my news.

Ron:

Newspapers know what business they're in. They're in the business of selling your attention span to advertisers.

Their competition is TV, radio, magazines, movies, bloggers, books, porn - anything that catches your eyeballs instead of their front page.

In the 70s and 80s they earned obscene profits, which Gannett and other Big Media used to expand their empires.

Now their revenue streams are drying up - I don't if their profit margins are merely returning to the levels of most business (instead of the 30 percent or so they used to earn) or if they really are getting to the point that they're losing money.

But the point remains. Readers are consumers, and they're in charge. The righties have talk radio, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, etc.

We libs have...well, NPR, a few magazines...and the blogs.

It used to be that newspapers could ignore declining circulation because they were the only medium for many advertisers. That's changed.

If we take our business elsewhere, the newspapers will die.

But no one else covers city hall and school boards. No one else has the resources to spend weeks, months - or in rare cases, up to a year - digging through musty records, meeting people, reading lots of reports and figuring out what's going on that the Establishment is trying to hide.

And that is what we'll lose if the local newspapers go belly up.

In Phoenix, I have some hope - I have started picking up the New Times regularly (as well as checking their online edition - I might want to stop doing that since the County Attorney and the Sheriff think that I and all other on-line readers are up to no good - the New Times is hitting the research hard. When was the last time you saw anyone called the Maricopa County Supervisors on the carpet like the New Times did a few weeks ago? Next to the State, their budget must be one of the biggest in the state. Who calls these people to accountability? Don't tell me - the electorate. Most people can't even tell who their county supervisor is.

Ron is right. The county budget is like 2.5 billion, and the state is 10, so there is some serious money involved. 90 legislators and a governor control the 10, but 5 regionally-elected anonymouses (editor:copyright that) control the 2.5 billion.

And Ron is wrong. My understanding is, what if the Sheriff was looking for a needle in a haystack -- a single "domestic terrorist" -- who threatened him or others who got his/their address from the New Times? So the sheriff had to subpoena, and search, the haystack for specific information. Doesn't give them the right to ID or chase down web surfers, 'cept for the one dude, if they can find him by matching up IP's.

Ron: What you know about the case, you heard from the New Times? They were a party to the case, do you think you are you going to get an objective account from them?

In American Government, there is a separation of powers and checks and balances and all that civics 101 stuff. In the U.S. media, are there similar institutional checks? What role does the New Times play? Something, but probably only worth a mention.

Timothy,

Nice discussion. Thank you.

I would say that the unfolding of the case - the firing of DW, the backing away of the MCA, the apparent re-writing of the grand jury rules, the dismissal of the case, the apparent anger of the judges (Baca, Mundell, et al) toward the principles (Sherrif and MCA) all make the point that there was apparent gross mishandling of the whole case by MCA and the Sheriff.

To what extent there was some validity to the 'witchhunt' that has been lost in the mishandling of the case by those pursuing it. At this point, what we all know is that First Amendment rights were being serviously challenged by the duo of the Maricopa County and the Sheriff.

As far at the Sheriff arguing that his privacy rights were being challenged by the publication of his address on the front cover of the Phoenix New Times and on their website, this is questionable as his address was available on public records (which is also true of all us at this point since the county has not decided to redact anyone's home address from its online public records). I understand there are some laws about the online publication of the addresses of public figures. Those laws are meaningless if you and I can find that information at other online locations in public documents.

As to your last point about separation of powers and checks and balances. Those are still only as good as the eyes paying attention to make sure that the checks and balances are happening. There are lots of examples in this country where the apparent checks and balances have broken down and the public has suffered. One concern many people have is that current 'coziness' of the Sheriff and the Maricopa County Attorney has lead to a breakdown of some of that balance and check which was supposed to be there.

Ok, but cops and prosecutors are part of the same branch, the executive, so they're not institutionally set to be in a power struggle. The judge's check this branch in court, as they did in the NT case, and the supervisors check them with county "legislation" and obviously the power of the purse and the budget process. Actually, the prosecutor dropped the case before the court even had a chance to. And, yes, some laws are meaningless but the prosecutor doesn't really get to decide which ones. Except immigration laws, adultery laws, etc.

Anyway, back to Greg's article on declining circulation, I'll just point out that the media does play an important role in the "system" and if they just evaporate one day something bad is going to happen. I don't think NT is a good substitute.

The Fourth Estate has been with us for quite awhile, Timothy.

It has come in various forms over the last 200 plus years. I am sure that it will find a way to survive.

Meanwhile, the process of awaiting its transformation and subsequent survival can be a bit nervewrecking and anxiety producing.

Michelle Malkin has a follow-up (with Willey reaction to the "reaction"):

http://michellemalkin.com/2008/01/08/dallas-morning-news-wow-people-are-mad-about-our-illegal-immigrants-as-texan-of-the-year-editorial/

She's still using that photo? It's from 1993

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