Friday, September 19, 2008

Biden at the opera

That big photo of Joe Biden on the front page of the Beacon Journal today looked like he was reaching for an operatic high C or warming up to bay at the moon.  Considering the shrink-wrapped glamor pictures that the media have been running of Sarah Palin, one wonders how the unflattering Biden photo was pulled from the batch. (And it isn't solely because Biden lacks her glamor and the editors had no choice!)  Even the headline raised a question (Where is Obama? some fans asked)  that was mentioned in no more than a single paragraph in the lengthy  article about Biden's appearances in Akron and Canton.  Can't say the negatives were deliberate.   Maybe they simply didn't occur to the layout editor.   If so, why didn't they?

On the other hand, the BJ outshone the Plain  Dealer by a mile in its coverage of the Biden  events hereabouts.  The PD, not long ago the paper of record in Northern Ohio, settled for a short story on the back page of the first section with a Youngstown dateline. The story reduced Akron to two paragraphs.   This is worth mentioning only because it is simply one more bit of evidence of the decline and fall of the print media.   

More evidence?  Five reporters at the BJ have been given layoff notices and must decide by Nov. 14 whether they will accept buyouts.  In addition, the hit list includes three copy  editors, one artist, one clerk and one photographer.  The word from the front is not pretty and the battleground will soon be strewn with more victims.   Sadly, the print industry is in panicky retreat and is doubtless past the point of no return.  Drastic reductions in staff,  other cost-savers and price increases will only delay the inevitable.  Among the latest "innovations" is the sharing of stories by several papers.   It is not unusual nowadays for the Plain Dealer, Beacon Journal, Columbus Dispatch to carry articles with bylines  from the other papers.  It's a takeoff on the retailing practice of reporting one story, get one free.    Get used to it.  

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