Newspaper Association Of America Complains That Comedian John Oliver Failed To Solve Newspaper Biz Model Problem
from the maybe-your-priorities-are-a-little-off dept
You may have seen that on Sunday, John Oliver’s main bit this week was about the collapse of the local newspaper business.
It’s a pretty typical John Oliver piece — and definitely on a topic that we’ve discussed many times in the past — media business models. However, we didn’t see much of a need to write about it… until the Newspaper Association of America decided to whine about it, mainly complaining that Oliver (1) didn’t offer any solutions and (2) mocked companies that are trying, no matter how ridiculous their efforts are:
However, other than encouraging people to “pay for” more news, he doesn’t offer any answers. More particularly, he spends most of the piece making fun of publishers who are just trying to figure it out. Whatever you think of the name “tronc” and that company’s announced growth strategy, at least they are trying new things and trying to figure out how to create great news journalism in the digital era. John Oliver doesn’t seem to have any better ideas.
The fact is that we are in a transitional phase within the entire industry. People want, need and consume more hard news than they ever have. The core demand for the product isn’t decreasing at all, and based upon that we will find our way to the far shore where the industry is thriving and growing once again. But in the meantime, there is going to be a lot of experimentation and evaluation of new business models. Some experiments will work and some won’t, and our VP of Innovation, Michael MaLoon is committed to keeping you up-to-date on what is happening on that front. But making fun of experiments and pining away for days when classified ads and near-monopolistic positions in local ad markets funded journalism is pointless and ultimately harmful.
I would just ask Mr. Oliver to spend more time talking about what the future of news could be, and less time poking fun at publishers who are trying to get there.
This is pretty ridiculous. First of all, much of the mocking was over the Tribune Company’s ridiculous rebranding as “tronc,” and specifically the absolutely ridiculous “tronc employee video” the company put together, that I still am partially convinced is a parody of the kind of idiocy big newspapers put out these days to pretend they get technology. “Artificial intelligence!” “The future of journalism!” “Tech startup culture!” “Evolving, changing — the fun part!” “Optimization group!” “Feed it into a funnel and then optimize it!” “Maximize all the time.” “Monetize video!” “The role of tronc is to transform journalism — from pixels to Pulitzers.”
I mean, the video is inherently mockable. It’s cringeworthy bad. I would have been disappointed if Oliver hadn’t included it in his story. It’s that bad.
And, really, despite the fact that we — among many others — have argued that Oliver and his team do real journalism at times — at its core, his show is about comedy. Of course he’s going to mock stupid stuff. Why shouldn’t he? Expecting him to offer a “solution” is pretty silly. Whining about a comedian making fun of your failures to actually truly evolve seems like it should be fairly low down on the list of things the NAA should be focused on these days. If it’s looking to comedians for solutions, and complaining when they don’t provide any, perhaps the NAA itself should be spending a bit more time exploring how its members can evolve and adapt.