Apparently, The Real Problem For Journalism Is Single Welfare Mothers Who Don't Speak English

from the stereotypes-of-the-80s-unite! dept

For years, we’ve talked about the ridiculousness with which many old school journalists want to blame the internet (or, more specifically Google or Craigslist) for the troubles some in the industry have had lately. It is a ridiculous claim. Basically, newspapers have survived for years on a massive inefficiency in information. What newspapers did marginally well was bring together a local community of interest, take their attention, and then sell that attention. What many folks in the news business still can’t come to terms with is the fact that there are tons of other communities of attention out there now, so they can’t slide by on inefficiencies like they did in the past.

Either way, it’s always nice to see some in the industry recognize that blaming the internet is a mistake. However, Chris Powell, the managing editor for the Journal Inquirer in Connecticut’s choice of a different culprit doesn’t seem much more on target. Powell, who it appears, actually does have a journalism job (I can’t fathom how or why) published an opinion piece (found via Mark Hamilton and Mathew Ingram) that puts the blame squarely on… single mothers. Okay, not just any single mothers:

Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households — two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they’re living in, and couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population.

Indeed. I’m curious if Powell can point to the stat on the “rising share of the population” who check off all of the following boxes: Single woman? Check! Several children by different fathers? Check! Need my welfare check to survive? Check. Can hardly speak or read English (don’t ask how I filled out this hypothetical census form)? Check! Move every few months to cheat my landlord? You betcha. Barely know what town I’m living in? Hell, I don’t even know what state this is. Couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription? What’s a newspaper? Anyway, Powell seems to think he has the stats on this “rising” population. I’d like to see them.

This actually sounds a lot more like the Reagan-era myth, rather than an actual group of real people. But, you know, apparently Powell has to reach out and blame some mysterious “other” force, and this is what he latched onto.

Of course, then it gets even more crazy. As David Quigg quickly pointed out, on that very same page where Powell wrote the above paragraph, there’s a giant “rules of conduct” image which appears to be directed at those evil, evil commenters, because clearly Powell didn’t pay much attention to the list — especially number four.

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Comments on “Apparently, The Real Problem For Journalism Is Single Welfare Mothers Who Don't Speak English”

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MM_Dandy (profile) says:

No newspaper subscription here.

I’m a father in a household that might come straight out of 50s suburbia – except I don’t smoke a pipe, my wife works outside the home, and we’ve more than one vehicle.

Despite that, we have never subscribed and have no plans to subscribe to any newspapers. We just don’t have any reason to – even local events are posted somewhere on the internet anymore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well to be honest I am not fond of number 4 either, that thing there could mean anything and sensibilities vary, not trying to be rude to others at any cost doesn’t appeal to me.

Anyhow, some other news media are going in the other direction and actually experimenting with other ways to find a footing somewhere.


?What we concluded from this research was that subscribers were not paying for the content, so much as paying for how they wanted to consume the content we published. They were paying for a print experience. Now, we want to see if there are sufficient consumers who will pay for a premium digital experience.?

PaidContent: Another wall tumbles: The Dallas Morning News dismantles its paywall, tries to sell premium features instead

In Texas no less(see why I don’t like the 4th rule there).

ECA (profile) says:

In my day

In my day,
there used to be LOCAL/area papers,
REGIONAL paper that covered the state and what was happening in the local states..
National/international news papers..

THEN there were the SPECIAL news papers like the federalist and a few others that had INTERESTING thoughts and comments..

NOW the best thing ANY paper can PRINT the number of copies that are to be used, then add about 10% for NEW readers.. Printing 1 million copies and only 100,000 get read is NOT Good business.

NEWS is NEWS…NOT opinion.
You might make correlations and integrate other data to make a point, but DONT GET TO WEIRD.

A person told me that MOST problems are simple. Even conspiracy.
My comment: is that they STARTED simple, but over time, they get WEIRD/complicated..

Anonymous Coward says:

AS a single parent who is fairly eloquent, I find it cromulent that this “journalist” has the temerity to call out single mothers, when he should actually be looking towards those who consistently and repeatedly fail to pay the correct taxes, such as Google, Facebook and quite a few of those on the Hill.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Re:

cromulent: legit but not legit, fine but not fine

So, when the dictionary, the real one, conflicts with the urban dictionary, the sort of real one, which one wins?

+1 – made me look a word up for something besides spelling today and realized you couldn’t possibly mean one thing and so I kept looking. That and I would have thought that cromulents are what Romulans call their uglier little children but that was definitely not fit usage.

Clearly you are an unfit mother and you should get a subscription to the newspaper.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman had something to say about this topic, in “To a Common Prostitute” (1860), although he lived in a different time than us, and his definition of a “fallen woman” was somewhat different: “BE composed?be at ease with me?I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature; Not till the sun excludes you, do I exclude you; Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you, and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you.”

But then… no one would ever confuse this man, Chris Powell, with Walt Whitman, would they?

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s not a real group of people?? Huh?? How often do you get out? Do you ever actually speak to social workers, public aid workers, etc? These people *do* exist, and in sizable numbers. (That is: single moms; multiple kids from different dads; borderline illiterate; etc. all in one package.)

Now, whether you can blame them for the failing of newspapers is a bit much, but these people most certainly *do* exist and in not trivial numbers, it’s just that you almost certainly do *not* interact with them on any level due to your social circle, not because they aren’t real.

Rapnel (profile) says:

Rules of Conduct

1. Keep It Clean: Blah, blah, blah – fuck 1.

2. Don’t Threaten or Abuse: Blah – pics or it didn’t happen

3. Be Truthful: OK

4. Be Nice: What for? (yes, that’s punny)

5. Be Proactive: Yes, please, by all means, report abuse and feel free to ask the parent poster why they’re being fucking pricks as well.

6. Share With Us: Yes, share with us! Selfies are preferred, especially if you’re the aspiring model type, video is a treat if you’re on google fiber and good old email if you’re sharing with the NSA. Share! Share like you’re Chris Powell! (but expect a few “Yeah, whatever, dickhead.” feedbacks.

Submit or quit!

PaulT (profile) says:

“Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households — two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such.. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers”

It speaks volumes that in his rant he hasn’t considered childless single women. Or single men. Or couples who are happily together or married but are childless either through circumstance or choice. Or professionals of any gender if they don’t have an idealised 50s-style home life.

Why, no, such people don’t want to read newspapers edited by ignorant reactionaries who blame minorities and cliches for their failings. Such a newspaper would be worthless, and there’s plenty of competition. Good riddance.

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