As a reporter-type person who has experienced unemployment on several occasions, I sympathize with the DNAInfo.com website in Chicago and the individuals who earlier this week abruptly learned they were out of work.
|RICKETTS: Owned Cubs/media pair less than Tribune Co.|
Although there’s nothing at all surprising about the fact that the company operating websites in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington – along with Chicago – decided to suddenly ‘pack it in’ after eight years of trying to cover news in those cities.
JOE RICKETTS, THE head of the wealthy family that owns the no-longer-defending World Champion Chicago Cubs and also was a significant financial backer of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential bid (the family nearly got a member appointed to a Cabinet post), let it be known he was giving up because the business end was failing.
The company wasn’t generating enough revenue to cover the expenses of actually having people on the payroll to cover the news – which is an essential expense if one is going to cover the news properly.
Various reports have pointed out the fact that the employees connected to the websites in New York voted last week to organize themselves as a labor union. Some would have us believe that Ricketts’ decision to shut down was purely a response to not wanting to deal with organized labor.
Which may be true. But the idea that management would rather not have their employees sticking together to negotiate benefits for all is nothing new. The idea of an owner hating organized labor shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody!
|Two local websites that are now ...|
SO I’M NOT about to join the parade of Ricketts bashers, some of whom are even insisting that we boycott Chicago Cubs games in response to his anti-labor actions. I would never expect him to be sympathetic, and I personally certainly don’t need this as a reason to ignore the Cubs – a ballclub I have never much cared for.
What I take personally from the DNAInfo.com closings is evidence of how costly it can be to professionally report the news. And how those people who are eager to see newspapers and their centuries of experience in doing so (the Chicago Sun-Times is a baby, tracing its origins back to the days just before Pearl Harbor) wither away are truly ridiculous in their attitudes.
There are those people deluded enough to believe there is no loss to society from fewer newspapers because the Internet and websites are capable of replacing them.
|... a part of Chicago's media history|
Yet most websites I have seen that are news-oriented are way too reliant on having newspapers to generate stories and content in general that they can appropriate for their own use.
A SITE LIKE DNAInfo.com, which actually had reporters looking for stories in the neighborhoods of Chicago (some neighborhoods were covered more thoroughly than others) that was generating its own content is running into the same problems as those who historically were disseminating their content on printed pages of pulp.
Which means most of these sites wind up becoming the medium of choice for benefactors with the finances to not care about their financial bottom line.
Even then, there comes a point when many of them have to cut off the funding and shut down. Remember the ProgressIllinois.com website, which had reporter-type people out-and-about covering stories – with the bills being paid by the Service Employees International Union?
Even they had to give in – with the website remaining in place, but un-updated since that final date. AP: Donald Trump Wins Presidential Election (UPDATED) is the final headline, as though determined to perpetually remind us all of the annoyance our society brought upon itself just over a year ago.
|Sun-Times still reporting news, despite death predictions.|
THERE IS ONE significant difference between the two closings – DNAInfo.com and its sister websites suddenly found all their content erased from the Internet. A letter from Ricketts explaining his decision to suddenly shut down (and make the four months of vacation pay and severance his reporters will receive seem overly generous) is all that remains of the sites.
There is some speculation Ricketts may try to archive some of the content – for those who care to see what once was of this particular attempt at covering the news.
Although as anyone who follows the “news” is fully aware, yesterday’s stories are ancient history. It’s the ongoing developments that provide for an overall report that has relevance to people’s lives.
And without it, we as a society may have to get used to a condition in which our attempts at public “education” may wind up being fulfilled with cutesy pictures of kitty cats, quirky pictures of people doing something stupid, and all the porn, porn, porn we could ever desire.