Times are tough, my freelance work is drying up and I've recently come to the realization that any job where you can accidentally dye your thumb blue is not exactly career path.
That's why I've decided to become a "Death of Newspapers" blogger. I'll join the ranks of Jeff Jarvis, Paul Gillin, Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky in competing to see who can use the most jargon to describe something everyone knows is happening.
Apparently, it's very simple. The more you self-reference, pick feuds and talk about the failure of TimesSelect, the better you're doing. If you make it sound like you're the one who figured out newspapers are dying, you win.
I mean, the point's not to fix anything. It's to describe the problem more dramatically than the next guy. If Steve Outing says newspapers have a "death spiral" and Clay Shirky predicts "a bloodbath," the point goes to Shirky.
Basically, imagine a group of people watching a building burn down and bickering amongst themselves about whether it's a conflagration or an inferno. It's like that, but with consulting fees.
Talk about how everything online is wonderful, everything paper is crap and then use the online to pimp your upcoming (paper) book. Bonus points for talking about how much you love the New York Times at least twice per blog post. It'll help your credibility. You love the Times, but ...
The ratio of book pimpage to analysis should be one reference to your book per post, one reference per sentence if you're Jeff Jarvis.
And link like a mad monkey who's sexually aroused by blue, underlined text.
Basically, it should go like this:
"Now, when I was a working journalist 25 to 30 years ago, before I got a completely unrelated job in either management or academia, an editor and I had a completely irrelevant conversation that I'm only telling you as an excuse to mention I once was a reporter.
"'This computer thing,' my editor said to me one time in 1983, 'I don't get it.' And I think about that conversation a lot. It's a perfect example of how newspapers have botched everything connected to everything new ever. Granted it was one conversation with a 72-year-old man back in the era of Flock of Seagulls, but that didn't stop me from making it the title of my upcoming book, 'This Computer Thing, I Don't Get It,' coming out in October from Obsequious Press.
"In TCTIDGI, I talk about how people will still create professional-level journalism will still exist in an environment where there's no incentive to create professional-level journalism. It'll all be done online, for free and will be better ... somehow. The best and brightest journalists will pull out all the stops for no pay, I swear.
"Really, reporters don't even LIKE having health insurance.
"I love the New York Times, but the 'Old Gray Lady' will fail and fail miserably. It will go bankrupt by 2, possibly 2:30 p.m. today at the latest.
"About two hours after the bankruptcy, a legion of bloggers from Slate and Boing Boing will drive the Times staff onto the streets, slaughter them before the eyes of kith and kin and revel in the lamentations of the women. The presses themselves will be shuttered, but spoken of in hushed terms as earthly vessels of the 'Old Gods,' relics of a more fearful time. The building will be dynamited and the cornerstone systematically raped by the founders of the TED conference.
"Quit whining. It's called progress.
"'Quit Whining, It's Called Progress,' incidentally, is the working title of a planned follow-up to TCTIDGI, which itself is coming out in October from Obsequious Press.
"Now, I might be a 57-year-old man who still is a little 'wowed' by Frogger, but I will still willingly call everyone who thinks differently than me a 'relic' or 'outmoded.' I will even do this to younger people who grew up with computers and don't see them with the aura of awe I perceive. I'll play off any hypocrisy as scampishness. ;)
"Another reason newspapers are dying is they don't try new things! Now here's a list of all the new things they tried that didn't work."
So that's my "Death of Newspapers" blog. I'm looking forward to seeing it pop up on many, many J-School alumni listservs. Facebook me!