A campaign executive for Gavin Newsom's governor's race said I was "scraping the bottom of the barrel" when I posted a photo of the mayor's green recycling bin in connection with a column about the city's new mandatory composting regulation. Point and shaky pun taken.
But, despite my own best lowly efforts, the New York Times reports today that "Newspapers Have Not (yet) Hit Bottom" of the yowling plunge the profession's been in for several years. I don't know if that's good news -- that there is a bottom somewhere from which we presumably will bounce or creep up like the economy in general -- or just a smack in the face of last week's Rupert Murdoch/stock market optimism that deep cuts, vertiginous circulation price hikes and successful prayer services for ad revenue to stop sinking so drastically have finally meant some newspapers are back making a buck. Or a lot closer to it than they were a few months ago.
Other trends are looking potentially juicy to the parched army of worried journalists. Atlantic blogger and media star Andrew Sullivan makes a digital ask for his readers to buy subscriptions to the paper version of the Atlantic and he gets almost as many people signing up in two days for what usually takes a month. Such powerful pitches from big name brands "may be the future of print" says Mediaite.com.
Future?! Print!? We haven't heard those words used together very often lately. And certainly not on a Web site. Can all those death march stories be wrong? Maybe the imaginary black border around Jim Romenesko's must-read media blog -- with all the negative stories or angry, pyrrhic defenses of newspapers -- is turning a brighter shade of grey.
So, just when profit seems to be staging a more improbable comeback than Britney Spears, along comes Barack Obama supporting tax breaks for newspapers that are structured as NON-PROFITS. Come on. The President must like ironic timing. Or is he trying another socialist sleight-of-hand here?
There's already a bill in Congress that addresses this possibility, and there's so far been no Obama support for it. But with the way he monopolized the morning show broadcast window yesterday, maybe the government wants to exercise that kind of regulation of newspaper news in return for surrendering profit and paying less tax.
Which would at least mean they care, always a good sign in any relationship. And I'm for supporting journalism, even if it takes a vote in Congress to get there. (I sit on the board of a journalism nonprofit, the Center for Investigative Reporting.)
Mr. Obama says he's a "newspaper junkie," which is good for traditional newsrooms; more people than we thought are still slapping that vein for ink on paper; that's why readers are willingly shelling out higher prices. But is he hiding some kind of Nancy Reagan-style "Just Say No" campaign behind that non-profit offer?
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