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Fourth Estate: Take Out the Paper

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When the United States began, the press meant newspapers — the venerable Fourth Estate.  Attributed to British politician Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797), that cognomen for newspapers has been broadened to include all of the mass media. The press is protected by law from Congress, but it is not protected from business or technology. Despite pundits’ predictions to the contrary, radio failed to kill newspapers and television failed to kill radio. Nor is the Internet killing its media cousins. As newspapers across the country fail or fold, bad business practices in the present bleak economy threatens all of the Fourth Estate.

The story of the failing San Francisco Chronicle is just one example of a major metro-area newspaper having been managed into the dinosaur museum of media. It took the paper losing $50 million last year for management to make a remarkable discovery of the obvious. Its last-ditch solution is to slash expenses and purge the payroll. "Our current situation dictates that we accomplish these cost savings quickly," Chronicle Publisher Frank Vega wrote in a memo to the staff. "Business as usual is no longer an option."

newspaperThe New York-based Hearst Corporation bought the Chronicle in 2000 in a $660 million deal and has been losing money ever since. The paper is the largest daily in northern California with a paid weekday circulation of 340-thousand and a work force of about 1500 people. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hearst said it will seek "critical cost-saving measures," including a steep reduction in the Chronicle's staff. If it can't reach its cost-saving target "within weeks," Hearst said it will seek a new owner for the Chronicle. If it cannot find a buyer, Hearst said it will close the paper. Bankers say there are no likely buyers for the Chronicle.

The list of new exhibits in the museum of dinosaur media includes other inductees such as the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Miami Herald. After 150 years Denver’s Rocky Mountain News is history. Tribune Company, parent to the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, has filed for bankruptcy. So has Philadelphia Newspapers which publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily Journal. In fact, 33 newspapers have filed for bankruptcy protection.  The American Society of Newspaper Editors has cancelled its annual convention for 2009.

Mike Hoyt is the Columbia Journalism Review Executive Editor. He says such losses are sad because newspapers are very tied in with their community. “When a city only has one paper,” Hoyt said, "you lose competition, and you lose the edge, and you lose energy. Competition is good. It sharpens the news gathering, and the investigative reporting." Reflecting on Denver and San Francisco, Hoyt said, "The daily newspaper in a major metropolitan market is the voice of a city. It provides a civic forum that everyone can relate to and come together to talk about. And it can take on complicated problems, and be a watchdog for the community.  You need big institutions to cover big problems and big situations."

In 1787 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Jefferson regarded a free press as absolutely essential to investigate and criticize the government. It came back to bite him. The press vilified Jefferson during his presidency. Nor  would he be the last.

A hundred and fifty years after Jefferson’s presidency, Harry Truman joined a long line of presidents who worked the press. “Once a week the President of the United States faces the free press and endures a barrage of questions,” wrote Anthony Leviero in the New York Times in 1949. “It is the biggest show in Washington. It is also a great institution, uniquely American. It has become a factor in our checks-and-balances system of government.”

Then there was President Nixon who, after two years of bitter public debate over the Watergate scandals, bowed to pressures from the public and the press to become the first President in American history to resign the presidency. “We saw a president toppled by a couple of [Washington Post] reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, who inspired thousands of young people to take up investigative journalism,” wrote the late author and activist Peter McWilliams. “Then, after Woodward and Bernstein were portrayed in the movies by Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, tens of thousands applied to journalism schools.”

The peril of our free press is that it costs a lot of money and there is not much of that to support it. “Journalists are the watchdogs, and being able to shine a spotlight on corruption or scandal is vital to our democracy," wrote  Mike Hoyt. However, the impact of the recession on newspapers ad-based bottom lines has to do with business and not journalism. The cost of the business downturn is  that there will be less journalism.

The worst advertising climate in decades killed the print version of the Baltimore Examiner free newspaper on February 15, less than three years after its debut. "This is very disappointing for all of us. Obviously, this is not what we envisioned when we launched the newspaper," ownership’s CEO Ryan McKibben wrote to Examiner staff. The company will now concentrate resources on an internet venture where it plans to add space, new columnists and Web editors.

Maybe that is an example of good business management, but what about the journalism?

“Half-truths, obfuscations and apparent deceit — these are the wages of a world in which newspapers, their staffs eviscerated, no longer battle at the frontiers of public information,” wrote David Simon in the Washington Post about his experience as a newspaperman in Baltimore. “And in a city where officials routinely plead with citizens to trust the police, where witnesses have for years been vulnerable to retaliatory violence, we now have a once-proud department's officers hiding behind anonymity that is not only arguably illegal under existing public information laws, but hypocritical as well."

Rather than solutions, there are modifications to the newspaper business model. The Duluth News Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, for example, will work with the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism and Mass Communication on a half-million dollar project. The idea of folding newspapers into endowment projects or university systems is being floated. There is my dinosaur media museum. In the end, business is business — enterprise has a market to support it.

Unfortunately, business being business, markets contract and companies cease to be viable. GM is a looming example of a failed corporation and yet some of its brands will continue to be be produced. I suspect journalism likewise will survive the fall of the big corporations as a hybrid form of credentialed web-print production, such as blogging with a hard copy back end. I will not be convinced that blogging is journalism, however, until I see a White House Blog Corps.

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About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • Clavos

    Tommy, I’m puzzled as to why you include The Miami Herald in your “museum of dinosaur media.” As a daily subscriber of many years’ standing, I find the paper to be as vibrant and investigative as ever, with a highly competent and inquisitive staff of reporters.

    It’s true that its circulation has sagged in recent years, and it probably is running short of capital these days, such that as a business, it may well be struggling, but as a newspaper it is as good (or better even) as it ever was.

    Late last year, the Herald ran a muckraking series on Medicare fraud that was outstanding, and for which the paper is likely to win yet another Pulitzer.

    Its columnists, including such luminaries as Leonard Pitts and Beth Reinhard, are outstanding. Pitts is nationally syndicated and runs in dozens of newspapers. he is himself a Pulitzer winner, and his column of September 12, 2001 is considered by many journalism critics to be one of the finest such ever written.

    Like many others, the Herald is struggling to find its niche in the new order of journalism, but a dinosaur it is not.

  • Clavos,

    You speak to my distinction exactly. There is considerable difference between journalism and business. I added the Miami Herald to my museum because it is for sale. Like the Chronicle, it may not find a buyer.

    However, the Herald could be folded into the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel and have its name survive.


  • There is much to lament at the possible, perhaps probable death of newsprint journalism. Any of us who were not weaned before a keyboard and monitor find this prospect very disturbing.

    We are most of us accustomed to perusing the newspaper at breakfast, during a lunch break, in our easy chair of an evening or even on the john. It’s a comforting and comfortable habit.

    While most of us who write here at BC are to one degree or other inured to using computers, it still is just not the same animal.

    Each morning I dawn adequate clothing and saunter out to the mail box at the street and retrieve my morning newspaper. I pour my coffee, fix my toast or bowl of cereal and check out what’s happening in the world. I am used to the look, the feel, even the smell of newsprint.

    While it is hard to imagine that print newspapers will survive in any real measure for more than a decade or so (if that,) it is even more difficult to imagine the day without them.

    What with the advent of more and more portable electronic media, it is, I suppose, likely that what journalistic organizations manage to survive far into the century will have turned in whole or large part to cyber space. Virtually every news organization of whatever stamp has a significant presence on the web. Versions of newspapers, magazines, etc., are available to the internet via computers, wireless phones and whatever else is out there skulking in the cyber darkness. We old farts will likely just have to grin and bare it. Perhaps it will ultimately ease our laundry bill what with no more ink stains on our shirts derived from toting the newspaper under our arm on the way to work.

    But, what of wrapping the garbage or lining the bottom of the bird cage?


  • Cindy

    Here’s your newspaper B.

  • Nice link. Still, not the same. Writing into the screen may have supplanted the traditional way of putting the pen to paper or chugging along with the old Remington, the keys clucking, Raymond Chandler way.

    Reading is not the same in terms of taking notes, writing on the margins, etc. There’s something to be said for tactile experience.

  • Once upon a time, a chisel and a piece of rock were needed to record the news. Delivery was, I suppose, a bit of a nuisance. Things changed, and then there were newspapers. I hardly ever read newspapers now, because any English language newspapers that I could get would be days old. I can buy Spanish language newspapers, and sometimes do, so that I can puzzle through them, dictionary in hand. Mainly, I buy them for the advertisements. Like all newspapers, they are also good for house breaking puppies. If we had any birds in cages, newspapers would probably also be more useful than a computer for lining the cages.

    The internet (regardless of whether Mr. Gore invented it on the way to discovering Global Warming) is, for me at least, a far superior vehicle. I can scan four or five on-line papers in less than an hour before breakfast. The Latin American Herald Tribune is at the top of my list, followed by la Prensa in Spanish (Google does a pretty good translation, and there is even an English language section), followed by several aggregators. When I find an interesting article and want to know more, it generally has multiple links to more information. Friends often send me e-mails with links to articles they found interesting and thought I might enjoy. That would be quite inconvenient to do with articles only available in traditional newspapers. I am on the mailing lists for various on-line newspapers, which send daily e-mails with links to their articles.

    With these resources, I am not confined by the whims of various print publishers, nor do I have to wait until tomorrow for news which broke after it was time to go to press. I can easily pick and choose from a far wider variety of sources than were I limited to the paper editions of a couple of newspapers. If I wish, I can interact by sending inane letters to the authors of articles, whose by-lines are often accompanied by an e-mail address, or by posting such stuff on the web site bulletin board. Writing a “letter to the editor” can be fun, but not quite as much fun. Sometimes, when I post a comment, another reader will post something to let me know that I am an idiot. Instant gratification is good. And, of course, it’s all free. Were I so inclined, I could purchase subscriptions to newspapers which provide all of their print content on the web. Thus far, I have not felt a need to do that.

    The likely demise of traditional newspapers doesn’t bother me much. They once did a pretty good job, and it would be odd to see a photo of President Truman holding up a computer monitor headlining his defeat by Governor Dewey. Yeah, I’m old enough to remember that, barely. Life goes on, just fine. Sometimes, it even gets better.


  • Baritone, I’ve heard a lot of wistful essays similar to yours. “Aw, I used to read the PAPER while drinking COFFEE and eating TOAST! The world is changing!!” Crimony. I used to poop my pants and drink from a sippy cup myself, and while I fondly look back on those times, I don’t get broken up over it.

    I read newspapers in high school and college. Once I graduated and began traveling, I didn’t feel the need to sit down and read a newspaper front to back.

    Now, maybe it’s because my job takes me to different newspapers all across the country, but maybe I get my fill by watching people put together the paper, occasionally using the down time to peruse through a couple-of-days-old edition laying around.

    But while watching print newsrooms vanish is sad, watching radio news slowly erode and even witnessing local TV stations shed their staff, I am aware that their void will quickly be filled by other mediums.

    And it could just be the job security talking, but newspapers will never go away. People need something to read on the bathroom, on the train, in the airplane, and wherever wi-fi just isn’t that great. Nobody’s talking about the death of the publishing industry as a whole — matter of fact, there seem to be more books out there — and magazines seem to be holding steady.

    I could go on and on, because I’m very passionate about this subject, so I’ll stop before I challenge Ruvy to a word count-a-thon.

  • Also, this isn’t a politics story.

  • Suss-man surely you know by now that everything is political.


  • Cindy,

    Yeah, I know. They’re trying. But you don’t get the sounds, or the smell, or the frustration of trying to fold the paper just so, so you can read holding it in one hand while sipping OJ with the other.


    Ah me. I am just of an age that I now possess a “legal carry” for a maudlin license. I understand exactly what you and Dan (Miller) are saying. Progress, progress, progress. But many of us prefer those things that came to us in our formative years, the early days of adulthood. We make our choices and form our habits fairly early in life.

    I’m not crying crocodile tears about it. I’ll muddle through. And, I assume that our local paper will still be out there in the box for a few more years, at least.

    But, there may come a time in your life when you start seeing the sign posts of your existence fading into the mist. With most “progress” much is often gained. But something is also lost.

    Oh, and Matthew. Be patient. Those days of pooping your pants and drinking from a sippy cup will return all too soon. You’ll be home again. :-/


  • Clavos

    You’re a romantic, B-Tone.

  • Clav,

    With a measure of cynicism, yes, guilty as charged.


  • Cindy

    Ah, romantics 🙂

  • Matthew,

    RE: Your #8. Granted, much of the discussion has NOT been of a political or even business nature. But the article certainly focused on the business realities facing the print media, and there is little in this point in time that is less political than economics.

    While I am the primary guilty party for having brought up the “warm and fuzzys,” once again I give notice that I am a licensed, card carrying – uh – maudliner guy. Mr. Wistful is the name. Warm and fuzzy is my game! Kick-ass warm and fuzzys, I should add, so keep a safe distance.:%)


  • Cindy

    “…everything is political.” –Dave Nalle



    I am a hopeless romantic. Wistfulness–yeah, comes with the territory (sometimes). But ouch, to be stuck at wistful. Joyful–that I like.

  • Cindy


    Here is some joy for you:

    Go here. Take the first song (Pata Pata, Miriam Makeba). Get something to use for percussion–drums, pots, spoons, whatever. Then give them out to your family. Now, play that song and you form a conga line through the house. Lotta joyfulness. 🙂

  • STM

    What Tommy fails to mention here is that newspaper circulation is declining all over the world, so it’d be reasonable to conclude that not every news organisation is guilty of operating poor business models.

    The one I work for has seen a circulation fall from over 700,000 to around 670,000 in the past five years or so – well before any impact of the global recession hit. That makes it worse, of course, but the real reasons lie elsewhere.

    It is still doing well and is edited by someone who really likes to have a go – and it tops the circulation charts in this country – but circulation falls of that magnitude should be a concern for any publisher. We’ve found we can sell an extra 50,000 copies with giveaways (CDs, promotions, etc) but it’s cost prohibitive and circulation falls back to its normal level immediately afterwards.

    In this case, the slide has been halted somewhat by the inclusion of some premium products on top of all the other inclusions – including a glossy mag and a much-lauded lifestyle liftout.

    I suspect there are a couple of reasons for the fall but one of the main reasons IS new media, and the fact that we live in an information age in which newspaper readers are literally dying off and younger people haven’t been trained to read them because it’s easier to sit at a computer for five minutes and call up a website or watch a TV news broadcast.

    There were always two copies of competing afternoon papers and either one of the two morning papers on our kitchen table when I was a kid. That’s still the case in my house (except the afternoons have closed down years ago – back in the late 80s, early-to-mid 90s, which is true of other big afternoon newspapers across the globe). But other people tell me their kids just don’t read them.

    Certainly studies are showing that to be the case, at least in terms of falling readership.

    We have tried to counter that in Sydney with a giveway afternoon commuter newspaper handed out at bus stops and railway stations across the city. It appeals to younger readers, and is something that has also been done in London.

    Hopefully, those younger readers get in the habit of reading a daily newspaper and are encouraged to buy a daily paper through their experience with the giveaway paper.

    Perhaps the other key to all this actually is in staying relevant and accepting that your audience in 2009 is a lot different to the one you had in 1979.

    Also, despite the quote in Tommy’s story about newspapers in America grilling politicians, that and – a free press – certainly isn’t a uniquely American institution. The British have been doing it, and so have we, for centuries. A free press forms one of the pillars of these great democracies too, as it does elsewhere in the world where free speech is regarded as THE great right.

    I do find some – certainly not all – American newspapers badly presented, hard to read and uniquely boring though, and too often they seem aimed at an “elite” audience. Elitism is a surefire way to lose touch with a large chunk of your readership, and balance is the key.

    For instance, I think the average Joe or Joanne is more interested in say, how company executives on multi-million dollar paypackets are screwing the system while workers lose their jobs, or how much they can save on their groceries by shopping smart, than they are about where to get the best latte or where to see the latest arthouse film from France about a depressed writer, his drug-addict girlfriend and their threesome with a bi-sexual neighbour.

    That, of course, and navigating through all the political spin and bullshit to deliver the REAL story to readers is what the press is about, and why I love working for it. There’s been some deviation from the path in the past few decades, and I suspect it’s the influx of journalism school graduates who sometimes think they are bigger than the story.

    Once upon a time, the only way to become a reporter was to work first as a copyboy (or girl). That certainly gave people a real hunger, which transferred to their newsgathering skills.

    Tommy’s right though – it will survive, and the recession might even be a godsend in a way: the press traditionally survives recessions (and did better than most other industries in the Great Depression) as advertisers retreat to “old” media to get more bang for their buck, and readers turn to something that gives them a view literally in black and white.

    Perhaps even the use of now-accepted terminology here – my use of “new” and “old” media – is symptomatic of the problems we are facing.

    Patient’s still warm and vertical, however, at this stage … even if it’s looking a bit ill.

  • Matt,

    A real newspaperman (someone reminded me rather forcefully that I’m not a journalist) has outdone me for the word count-a-thon.

    So stick it where the sun don’t shine and where the newspaper cleans the ….. oh we were talking abut cage liners and fish wrapping, weren’t we?

    I grew up being able to read up to seven newspapers in English and having a choice of about 20 or 30 dailies and weeklies in foreign languages. I found the great newspaper strike in New York – the one that closed the Daily Mirror and a passel of other papers – a very tragic event.

    Nevertheless, the newspaper strike did resurrect the Brooklyn Eagle for a while, and being a Brooklyn boy, it was nice to see Bronx natives stuck reading the Eagle.

    But, living in Israel, where everything costs a fortune, it is just plain cheaper to read the St. Paul Pioneer Press or New York Times for free, or peruse the English version of Yediot AHronot or Arutz Sheva – also for free – on the computer. The free giveaway commuter paper Yisrael Hayom has given both Ma’ariv and Yediot AHronot a run for their money and they both sell (near where Yisrael Hayom is given out) for 2 shekels a piece (about four shekels more than what they are worth).

    I sit at my desk, drink my morning coffee and peruse the headlines and the stories. If my desk had more room, I’d eat my toast there too…. If I really get rich, I’ll buy a handheld computer with internet access, and sit on the throne thinking great thoughts while perusing Arutz Sheva, and enjoying that “no pressure in the intestines” feeling.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to go to printing school. Boy, am I glad I didn’t!

    The world moves on Baritone! And yes, Stan is right, newspaper readership is declining world-wide. So, at some point, we will all just have to get with the program….

  • Newspapers are all about politics and always have been. They include lifestyle, local news (public relations releases and police blotters), business (more public relations) and sports (public relations and scores). But, it is the Op-Ed that makes a paper.

    The idea of “investigative journalism” is an oxymoron. If it is not investigative, it is not journalism. It is (you guessed it) public relations.

    With the possible exception of PBS and NPR, television and radio are about selling beer and cars. Journalism is a luxury. They have limited Op-Ed, if any. Newspapers endorse candidates. Television and radio report those endorsements.
    Being an editorial columnist is like being an unelected public official. There is political gamesmanship involved.

    I call out Congressman Nalle on some issue and claim he is a point missing, libertarian loon. The Congressman responds and accuses me of being a left leaning, communist sympathizing socialist muck-raker. We play this show to our constituents and stir the debate, being careful to keep both of our names in plain view. At best, after some time of name calling and public relations, we agree to disagree and have our pictures taken in that agreement. He gets reelected and I get to be critical of him for another term. At worst, I endorse his opponent, drive him from office and take up the game with another “opponent.”

    Of course, one of us would have to be a crook for that to happen. Besides, Congressman Nalle and I both know that “government in the sunshine” is a load of radio and television. Politics is done in private.

    The bombing of Britain made radio news important. The assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald made television news important. They best cover natural and human disaster. Both of those mediums are dominated by talk and sports – interesting to listen to and look at, but insignificant for decision making purposes.

    Media convergence threatens the check and balance system of government, a purely political institution. My concern is that we are running out of press and that threatens our freedom.


  • I don’t know whether this would add any to the discussion, but my interest in a decent paper (apart from when I’m looking at at out of boredom) would be good writing and good analysis. The readership has been declining for years, as STM says, but not only because of the new media but also because of the declining literacy.

    I suppose comparing the reading trends today with that in past would tend to confirm that, as well as what kind of stuff (novels) people read – trash or good works.

  • Cindy,

    Hey, I have a “joy” license as well – (Well, actually I’m just a trainee.) The Makeba song is cool. I often go back to “Where the Hell is Matt” from time to time as well. I can even go to Youtube and watch my son doing Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” That’s not a particularly happy show, but it makes me happy to see my kid.


  • As Charlie Brown would say, “Oh. Good grief.”

    I used the word “oxymoron” when “superfluity” is what I meant.


  • Cindy


    That is your kid? The yellow coat tails guy? Very cool; he sings! Oh, I have to say, joyless though it may be, Pink Floyd’s The Wall album is my fav by them.

  • STM

    Way to go, B/tone… he looks like he’s going OK.

    That’s not a bad cover, and your son’s band looks pretty popular. I love Floyd. The Wall is one of my faves, but I think Money’s my all-time favourite.

    He’s pretty good though mate, except for the Seppo accent 🙂

  • He’s not with the band. The production included my son as “Pink,” the band, a small orchestra, child & adult choirs plus all the graphics on the screens behind.

    He is actually an operatic tenor. That was the 1st rock music he had ever really performed. As to the accent, that came at the behest of the director. It was tough for him as he only had about 10 days to learn the whole thing. He’s been living and working in Germany. This was a one night gig. Roger Waters will only allow one performance of the show at a time.

    It rained during the entire performance. At one point early on he ran across the stage, hit a wet spot and went down hard. (I think it can be seen in one of those Youtube clips.) Somehow he came back up on one knee and some thought it was a “bit.” He actually hurt his neck and back in the fall. He completed the performance soaking wet and in pain. He recovered in a few days. But, he does look pretty cool, I must say. :%)


  • BTW – I know this is a bit shameless of me. But we didn’t get to see the performance live. We have seen those Youtube clips, but we just got a DVD of the entire performance, and I guess my “proud papa” genes coupled with the above mentioned license to maudle, I was just overwhelmed.


  • Cindy

    Money is my fav to Stan. They’re both my favorites.

    (look, if Dave can talk about politics, they can surely both be my favorites 🙂

  • Cindy


    I think it’s cool! I’d like to see any clips of your kid.

  • Cindy,

    This is the only other thing I know of that’s on the web. It is a series of production photos of “Cabaret” he is still performing in Germany. He’s the Emcee – the Joel Grey role. We got to see that show plus a couple of operettas. He kinda blew us away as we hadn’t seen him perform in about 5 years.


  • Cindy

    Nice B. He suits that role in the photos. It was in German I imagine? You understand German?

    I saw Cabaret at the Roundabout at Studio 54 in NYC. It was a perfect theater for that, being the kind where you sit a tables and built in booths. Designed for dinner theater. It’s one of my favorite shows.

    Does he still live in Germany? I really enjoyed Germany. Great place isn’t it?

  • Tommy sez:

    The idea of “investigative journalism” is an oxymoron. If it is not investigative, it is not journalism. It is (you guessed it) public relations.

    That’s a bit narrow. What about news reporting and op-ed writing? Do you not consider those to be journalism? It’s a big stretch to call them public relations.

  • Cindy,

    Yes, the Cabaret performce is in German. My son is fluent, fortunately. No, neither my wife nor I speak or understand German. I’ve tried to learn it on a couple of occasions, but just couldn’t stick with it.

    Yes, he still lives in Germany. The company he is in is still producing Cabaret along with various operas, operettas, musicals, orchestral works, ballets, etc. He is in his third year with this company. They perform in the towns of Neustrelitz and Neubrandenburg north of Berlin.

    This fall he is probably moving to Bavaria to perform with a different company. I’m not sure exactly where it is, though – someplace near the town of Wurzburg. I guess it’s quite beautiful there. He’s holding out on signing the contract for that as he is auditioning for a production of Lion King in Berlin. If he gets that part he would be singing “Acuna Matada” a thousand times or so. I’d think that could get boring, but he says on the up side, the money is pretty good.

    We’ve been to Germany twice. I love it. I’d love to live in Berlin. It’s an incredible city. I wrote a couple of pieces about our last trip to Germany here at BC and on my “Rupture” blog.

    Where have you visited in Germany?

    It occured to me after I left my last comment that there is a link to his entire performance of “The Wall.” (You have to click on the arrow 2 or 3 times to get past some advertising.) It’s rather long and full of angst, but even watching just a few minutes of it will give you a sense of the production. It was quite well done. The band is really good, and the graphics and videos on the screens are interesting as well.


  • Well, you’ve got to read Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories.

  • Doc:

    Actually, investigative journalism is a superfluity. Journalism requires investigation; otherwise it is a form of public relations. I speak from my experience on both sides of that communication fence – being able to write press releases that read like news stories and digging into press releases to discover news stories. I also taught Writing for Mass Media as a university adjunct instructor.

    Op-Ed writing is what characterizes the voice of a paper, the highest form of journalism. At its best Op-Ed is unelected public officialdom. US children are taught that there are three branches of government, similar to Burke’s estates. There are in fact five branches, the unmentioned being the Bureaucracy and the Press, neither of which are appointed or elected.



  • Tommy,

    You say: “There are in fact five branches, the unmentioned being the Bureaucracy and the Press, neither of which are appointed or elected.”

    IYO is either a bad thing?


  • Roger,

    I’ve long known of “The Berlin Stories” but admittedly have never read any Isherwood. I’ll check it out (-:literally – from the library.:-) Thanks.


  • Well, that’s the background for “The Cabaret.”

  • B,

    Is either a bad thing?

    Bureaucracy is the machinery of government. The idea of less government pertains to bureaucracy, which is funded by congress. However, no career bureaucrat keeps their career by letting their budgets get cut. So that could be a bad thing.

    The Press oversees the bureaucracy at its best. At its worst the Press can be complicite in bureaucratic largess, such as was the case until recently in Ted Stevens’ Alaska. So that could be a bad thing.


  • If people continue to insist that web content be provided to them free of charge, it will be difficult for web journalism to literally replace print journalism.

    Most of the most popular news web sites are either tied to a print publication or are aggregators of content from many sources.

    Whatever one thinks of the NY Times, the experience of reading it, cover to cover, which I still do every day, cannot come close to being duplicated by browsing a web site and picking up fragments of stories.

    And no web site to date has enough journalists on staff to do the kind of broad, deep coverage that the Times does. [No other print newspaper in the US does either.]

    I enjoy noshing on bits and pieces of news web sites. But it leaves me hungry.

  • Except for BC, Handy. We’re about to set a standard, don’t you think?

  • Roger,

    I just had a “duh – I knew that” moment realizing that Isherwood’s “I am a Camera” was the main inspiration for Cabaret. I appropriately smacked both the front and back of my head. Gotta keep it real (whatever that means.)


  • Correct.

  • Cindy


    That is a cool video! I like where he’s bringing in the ideas from “Money” by writing the words to it on that screen.

    Oh my, Bavaria is beautiful. Wurzburg is the start of The Romantic Road, which ends at Fussen. But, I’m sure you know that. Along the way there is Neuschwanstein Castle. It’s the “Sleeping Beauty Castle”.

    We flew from London to Dusseldorf and took the City Night Line to Munich. (If you ever go off season try Kings Hotel – kingshotels.com – it was dirt cheap off-season at the time, on season prohibitive).

  • Cindy


    A few more great things I recommend.

    Two wonderful things in nearby Austria: The ice caves (closed off season, didn’t get to go), and The salt mines. If you notice that slide rail on that page. That is what miners actually used. (Amazing)

    In Switzerland: The panoramic trains. We met a wonderful old man on one and spent an afternoon with some wine making jokes and overcoming our language barrier with charades and drawings.

  • Cindy,

    Did you watch the whole thing? It’s rather daunting. No shortage of close ups of my son, though.

    Hey, you really did some great things over there! We had to make our trips on kind of a shoestring budget. Luckily, we were able to stay at our son’s apartments each time. We went to see him in Vienna just prior to the millenium and stayed in his apartment there as well. Hotels are pricey in Vienna.

    I have driven a Ford Focus Wagon on the autobahn. That is an experience. But, we’ve spent time touring Berlin, as I said, and also Leipzig, Munich, Ulm, Halle, Neustrelitz & Neubrandenburg, Ravensbruck, Rheinsburg and Stralsund up on the Baltic. All of our trips have been in the winter.

    My younger son went to Germany & Austria with his high school German class some years ago. They went to Neuschwanstein Castle and the Swarovski Crystal Factory.

    BTW – Your “ice caves” link didn’t work, but the others did. Pretty neat stuff.

    I should be coming into a good deal of money. I’ll know as soon as I can check my latest lottery tickets. When we cash in, we’ll make a grand tour of Europe. :-}


  • Cindy


    I watched about 1/3 so far. It’s good, so I’ve kept it open. I almost never can watch a thing straight through, though…we all have ADD; don’t we?

    We went off season B, in the fall. It was cold, but cheaper. It was our honeymoon. We had listened to a book on tape called The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Folsom. In the book, the characters chase from England to Germany across Switzerland, to Jungfraujoch–the top of Europe. So, we brought the book on tape and planned it so, as we listened our trip would mostly follow the action, through different Swiss towns and villages to the Ice Palace and Weather station described in the book.

    Another very cool Swiss village was Wengen. No roads to this village…you go by cable car. You just walk through from one side to the other. Lovely.

    Ice Caves in Austria (This one works. You have to choose English yourself. I chose it last time; thus, the error.)

  • Cindy,

    That’s great AND romantic! I would like to go when its warm. I’d love to go back to Vienna and see the Schonbrunn Palace gardens in bloom. Hell, it’d be good to go over there and see ANYTHING in bloom.

    BTW – There is a point in the “The Wall” video when it stops – about 70 minutes in, I think. For some reason you have to wait 15 or 20 minutes to pick it up to the end. (Probably a good time for an extended potty break.) Something to do with the nature of the download, I guess.

    I know what you mean about the ADD. It’s all TV’s fault. A lot of us have about 7 minute attention spans. Then we have run to the john or check out what’s in the fridge and make it back to whatever we were doing in about 3 minutes.

    As depressing as “The Wall” is, there is something kind of mesmerizing about it. And the music is good. My brother even sat through most of it, and he won’t watch anything remotely depressing or serious.

    My son doesn’t want his voice teacher to see the video. He told me that he did his best to protect his voice, but man, there’s some near screeching going on there. He called a few times during the rehearsal process admitting real trepidation about it, saying that it was really hard. My wife was incredulous. She said, “It can’t be hard. It’s rock music.” But he protested that it was the hardest thing he’d ever done.