Curtains for

A few months ago, billboards started appearing around town promoting a website whose name appeared to be affiliated with out city’s tourism department. Was this another folly for Terry Ellis Schmidt to waste our tax dollars?
Rumors began to circulate that a handful of wealthy investors, tired of the supposed “liberal” bias of our local news outlets, were putting together a local, online version of Fox News. A few semi-celebrities were linked to this venture, including Shawn Cable, whose contract with KELO terminated right around the time of the site’s launch.
Sometime this summer, did indeed launch…and the city yawned. Boasting to be an independent source of news and weather, it never really captured the imagination of anybody who wasn’t related to somebody involved in the venture.
Why would it? I visited a handful of times, and not once did I come out of there with information that I hadn’t already seen in the local newspaper, or on television or the internet. God bless my friend Shawn, but attaching his name to the same weather forecast that I can get from a variety of sources didn’t set them apart from anybody else.
A few days ago, rumors started to circulate that this venture wasn’t going to make it to showcase Cable’s expertise on marathon blizzard coverage. These rumors were indeed true, as the majority of employees were let go late last week.
Owner Joe Prostrollo claims that the site will carry on, but he just needs a little help. Almost $200,000 of help, which is the amount of money that he claims was invested in this site. Joe must be a helluva salesman, though, as I can’t think of any worse investment than any startup website, particularly one that doesn’t contain porn or videos of stupid people doing stupid Steve-O-ish stunts. The fact that Joe’s investors expected any return on their investment, let alone a full return in less than three months, proves either Joe’s charm or his investor’s ineptitude.
I understand that according to the experts the entire world is going to be online in just a few years – including books, magazines, music, movies, radio, TV, and, of course, newspapers. What is generally left out of these conversations is the fact that the predictors are generally people with a vested interest in the success of online ventures.
These experts are always more than eager to point to statistics to prove their point. Newspaper and magazine subscription rates are down almost across the board, as are television and radio ratings. Obviously, everybody must be getting their news and entertainment online.
Bloggers are the worst of this lot. Talk about a self-congratulatory bunch of douches. (I kid those bloggers who are my friends.) They love to point at their site’s statistics, regardless of the fact that the majority of visits are by the same people multiple times a day.
As a fellow blogger, I would like to say that sorry, kids, we’re not reinventing the wheel here. Yes, a few of us do some great work and discover stories that would otherwise not be heard (I wish I was one of those), but for the most part our words are read by either those who think exactly like us or those who hate us and are just waiting for us to hang ourselves with our own words. The vast majority of the public has never heard of any of us, and never will.
This is why I laugh when I see the mainstream media devoting more and more of their capital to their online presence. Yes, it’s great that I can look up anything silly Lou Raguse has said, or how Robert Morast has pissed off the classic rock crowd. That’s exactly how the internet serves the public – as an online version of the library. I no longer have to sit paging through back issues of the Argus at the library. I can instead attempt to navigate their poorly-designed website, along with almost every other newspaper in the country.
But this idea of the internet replacing the newspaper is absurd. No matter how their website is laid out, you cannot recreate the feel of browsing through every page, glancing at every headline and maybe reading a story or two that you otherwise would not care about. Online, one tends to only click on those stories that truly interest you, which means you rarely pick up information on other topics.
Internet news is an addition to traditional news sources, and for the majority of the public will be for quite some time. The declining numbers of sold newspapers are barely affected by the internet. Newspaper sales are down primarily because the general public as a whole cares less about the news, let alone reading in general, then at any time in our nation’s history. Why do you think so much of the cable news day is devoted to Britney and O.J.?
I’m sure a number of you are sitting there thinking that this is the rant of somebody who is showing his age. Trust me, I am more computer-proficient than the majority of people half my age, and a rather large part of my day is spent online. In my day-to-day routine, though, I encounter a wide variety of people of various ages, IQ’s, and occupations, and I can verify that as a whole people are less informed then ever, despite the fact that there are more sources for information than ever before. It’s a sad state of affairs, and I don’t see it getting better anytime soon. It’s safe to say, though, that won’t be helping to reverse this trend.


Anonymous said…
i was wondering why the former weekend anchor of kdlt was back on the air again. i hope they keep the woman they have on now. she is hot. as an aside, one really has to question the journalistic ability of those who left their "real" journalist jobs, such as they were, to sign on to that already sunk ship.
Anonymous said…
I worked with some of those people and they are some of the best at their jobs, period.

I think Joe Postrollo really has a lot to answer for in this. It was an interesting idea but he really messed something up.

I saw want ads for positions with and they claimed to pay 10 grand more than at least two of the stations in town for the same position.
Anonymous said…
I'll tell you what, you're right about one thing, I love perusing the paper, although I rarely do it anymore. I go on-line and read the few stories that interest me, and move on.

I wish the Argus (which, again, you're right, very poorly designed website), or any other paper actually put the newspaper online. Ads and all. You'd think it would be worth more to advertisers.

Why not the whole thing in pdf form? If Guitar Center can do it with their ads. Why not a newspaper?

And one more thing. I had friends who went to work for I told them point blank not to do it if Prostrollo was going to be the linchpin holding it together. I was assured it was bigger than him and he wouldn't be the one deciding whether or not makes it. Well, I guess they were right.
Anonymous said…
i can't read on the crapper. well, i guess i can if i bring my laptop into the toilet room, but i don't want to do that.

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