Posts Tagged ‘Gannett’

The main thing wrong with so-called ‘P.C.’

February 9, 2015

In October 2001, shortly after America invaded Afghanistan, some of its Navy personnel were preparing missiles that were going to be fired at al-Qaeda and Taliban strongholds.  One of the Navy men … … wrote the following message on his missile: ‘Hijack this, you faggots.’

… … When they heard about what had happened, the upper echelons of the Navy were outraged. They expressed ‘official disapproval’ of the homophobic message. … … Some unofficial guidelines were issued … …

… … What these Navy people were effectively saying is that it is okay to kill people, but not to offend them. … …

This really captures the warping of morality that is inherent in political correctness, where one becomes so myopically focused on speech codes, on linguistic representation, that everything else, even matters of life and death, can become subordinate to that.

via Brendan O’Neill | spiked.

The main thing that is wrong with so-called “political correctness” is that its goals are compatible with gross inequality and injustice.

It is imaginable that a future society may have conquered racism, misogyny, homophobia, able-ism and even class-ism and still be a police state committed to endless war on behalf of a tiny financial oligarchy.

That is why elite universities that have hate speech codes and teach “oppression theory” can pay sweatshop wages to their adjunct instructors and raise tuition as high as the traffic will bear, and why Fortune 500 companies and big Wall Street banks can “honor diversity” and still work against the interests of the vast majority of the American people.

I got a taste of this when I worked for a Gannett newspaper when Allen Neuharth was CEO of Gannett Co. Inc.  Under his management, Gannett made a good-faith effort to recruit and promote women, ethnic minorities and also people from diverse backgrounds—not just members of the Ivy League elite.

I think this was good for Gannett’s newspapers because a newsroom (unlike, say, an air traffic control tower) needs to be open to diverse viewpoints and backgrounds.

But “diversity” also gave Neuharth cover for paying wages below the standard for the industry and for being extremely anti-union, far beyond what devotion to the corporate bottom line would justify.

I remember what a waste of time the newspaper’s “diversity training” sessions were.   They seemed more like an exercise in divide-and-rule than anything else.

The extreme example of the contradiction I’m talking about is the celebration of Martin Luther King Day by the staff the Guantanamo Bay base, whose inmates are denied basic human rights.

I honor the struggle for equal rights for African-Americans, for women, for gays and for all the other groups who’ve been unfairly marginalized.  I see these struggles as part of an overall struggle for equal justice for all, which also is the struggle on behalf of the majority of the population for economic justice and basic civil liberties.

Without a vision of the common good and equal rights for all, and without a realistic strategy for achieving it, the disparate groups with their separate grievances will be played off against each other, and the powers that be will win.

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The passing scene: Links & comments 8/15/14

August 15, 2014

Policing Protests Like Soldiers Makes Everyone Less Safe—Even Police by Conor Friedersdorf for The Atlantic.

Turning Policeman Into Soldiers: the Culmination of a Long Trend by James Fallows for The Atlantic.

People in the military, as one officer once put it, are trained to kill people and break things.  This is the opposite of the job of the civil police, which is to protect lives and property.

Troopers are supposed to kill or subdue the enemy.  That is their mission.  The mission of the civil police is to take people into custody when there is reasonable cause to believe they have committed a crime, which is very different.

The arming of the police as if they were a military force, and recruitment of police out of the military without further training, generates a police force whose mission is not to protect and serve the civil population, but to cow it into submission.  I would like to believe this is unintentional.

Why Did the Americans Get the Drugs? by Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Two American doctors got a potentially life-saving drug for the Ebola virus from which hundreds of Africans already have died.   This looks bad, but Josh Marshall pointed out this is not necessarily because American lives are regarded as more valuable than African lives.   The experimental drug may not work,  it may have lethal side effects and Africans have bad memories of pharmaceutical companies testing dangerous drugs without informed consent.  Better for American physicians, who understand the risks, to use themselves as guinea pigs rather than Africans.

What Would Hamas Do If It Could Do Whatever It Wanted? by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic.  (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Lest we forget, Hamas is an anti-Semitic movement, whose exterminationist rhetoric and belief that Jews secretly control the world is an echo of European fascism of the 1930s.  But what Hamas would do to the Jewish people of Israel if it had the power is not much different from what the Israeli government is doing to the Arab people in Palestine in reality.

Here are the job descriptions for Gannett’s newsroom of the future by Jim Romenesko.  (via Naked Capitalism)

I worked for the Democrat and Chronicle, the Gannett newspaper in Rochester, NY, for 24 years.  I’m glad I was able to retire when newspaper reporters were still thought of as “journalists” rather than “content providers”, and when there was still a separation between the newsroom and the marketing department.

Getting Sucked Into Obamacare Is a Lot Like Being on Probation by “Lambert Strether” on Corrente.

I would have thought President Obama would have taken the trouble to ensure that his signature policy would work well, but evidently not.

Gannett’s rich reward for a failed CEO

October 25, 2011

Gannett Co. Inc. owns the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, where I worked from 1974 to 1998.  Newspaper work was good to me, and Gannett was good to me, but I’m glad I was able to retire when I did.  I am reminded why I’m glad as I read this by David Carr in the New York Times.

Craig A. Dubow

Craig A. Dubow resigned as Gannett’s chief executive [on Oct. 6].  His short six-year tenure was, by most accounts, a disaster.  Gannett’s stock price declined to about $10 a share from a high of $75 the day after he took over; the number of employees at Gannett plummeted to 32,000 from about 52,000, resulting in a remarkable diminution in journalistic boots on the ground at the 82 newspapers the company owns.

Never a standout in journalism performance, the company strip-mined its newspapers in search of earnings, leaving many communities with far less original, serious reporting.

Given that legacy, it was about time Mr. Dubow was shown the door, right? Not in the current world we live in. Not only did Mr. Dubow retire under his own power because of health reasons, he got a mash note from Marjorie Magner, a member of Gannett’s board, who said without irony that “Craig championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information.”

But the board gave him far more than undeserved plaudits.  Mr. Dubow walked out the door with just under $37.1 million in retirement, health and disability benefits. That comes on top of a combined $16 million in salary and bonuses in the last two years.

via NYTimes.com.

And also this, by Peter Lewis, formerly of the Des Moines Register, New York Times, Time magazine and Stanford University journalism school.

Mr. Dubow … required many employees to take unpaid leaves of absence, and instituted pay freezes.  He referred to this as “increasing workplace efficiencies.” … …

Mr. Dubow managed to keep earnings high, according to analysts, by cutting costs (i.e. people) more aggressively than any other company in the media industry.  Gannett refers to this as “workplace restructuring.” … …

Gracia Martore, who replaces Dubow as CEO, said: “We will continue our relentless quest to provide trusted news and information and will actively support the people and businesses in the communities we serve.”

These people are lying.  The corporate goal is not to serve the consumer; it’s to maximize profits and pay packages for top executives.  Can anyone argue that Gannett newspapers and journalism are better today, and that news consumers are better served?

How did Mr. Dubow and Gannett serve the consumer?  They laid off journalists.  They cut the pay of those who remained, while demanding that they work longer hours.  They closed news bureaus.  They slashed newsroom budgets.  As revenue fell, and stock prices tanked, and product quality deteriorated, they rewarded themselves [with] huge pay raises and bonuses.

via Words & Ideas.

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