Uhh…you mean it wasn’t the decision to give Dick Young’s “Clubhouse Confidential” gig to Phil Pepe?
If I had known about the Internet, I would have thought, “Who is better positioned to take advantage of a new text-based information medium than newspapers? We have a giant roomful of people who report, write and edit.”
It was my first night on the job. I hadn’t yet learned how hidebound, how slow, how downright stupid newspaper management could be.
The Web came along as a medium to be reckoned with about five years later. As an industry, newspapers failed to see it as an opportunity and instead treated it, almost unanimously, as a threat, something to be fought and vanquished. It was a mistake the industry made not for weeks or months, but for years. It was the newspaper industry’s fatal error. The way the kids say it now: its epic fail.
My old boss at the Examiner, Phil Bronstein, has been marketing himself as this sage statesman of journalism now that he’s no longer piloting the Chronicle. A few weeks ago, writing on his SFGate.com blog about newspapers in general, he said the industry had been “marched to the gallows by an uncaring and unappreciative public, sentenced by shifting technological and cultural habits and a few bonehead moves of [our] own.”
Oh, brother. Marched to the gallows by an uncaring and unappreciative public? More like reluctantly left behind by a public that had been ignored for more than a decade as it screamed, “This is how we want information delivered to us! Not the way you’re doing it! This other way! Look! Over here! We’re over here now! Hey!”