Just A Thought – What News? Patch Can’t Hold, CC News Axes Editor

As the great Molly Ivins once advised “Never take a vacation in August.” The news business might seem to be slow, but there’s always at least one good story around. For Culver City, it’s the news about the news business. Patch is just about over, and the Culver City News has fired another editor.

While we need to remember that these are just the most recent symptoms, the cause of all the changes in the news business come down to the essential problem- people feel that news should be free. This deprives the news business of what any business needs to stay alive- profits. It also deprives news of the capital required to do the job of covering the news.  People then cite the lack of quality as a reason not to pay for the service. It’s a deep, downward spiral.

Culver City Patch, which was just recently merged with Mar Vista Patch, may soon be a memory. Tim Armstrong, AOL’s brains behind the whole Patch operation, still can not admit that it just doesn’t work. After years of steady losses in the $100-million-plus category, AOL is closing two thirds of their sites, asking their people to do more work for less pay (yet again) and waiting for those mythical advertisers to show up. While the numbers are inconsistent (some sources say 300 sites will remain, some say 400) they are looking to ‘partner’ those remaining sites with other media entities. They are not using the term “partner” like a good romance, more of a shotgun wedding. If they can even find a bride, and they need one with a substantial dowry.

CC Patch came in about the same time as the Fresh and Easy grocery chain, and often left me with the same feeling; good stuff, but so devoid of connection it felt empty. Some who followed the Twitter feed complained that the headline often contained more information than the rest of the story. The cops laughed at how inaccurate the crime stories were. Listening to a dispatch radio is like eavesdropping; a few bits of unverified information is not journalism. Even having a parent company that could afford to lose a few hundred million dollars still wasn’t enough to work out the lumps.

It’s hard to walk in the door and be local. You have to be local for a while before you really get the hang of it.

Then again, some never do.

The Culver City News has (surprise!) fired another editor. Lori did good work, and no one who has not sat at that desk can truly appreciate the challenges she had to work with. The company that owns the CC News seems to like to fire the editor during the ramp-up to local elections, making sure that whoever is the next Professor of Dark Arts will have almost no time to get introduced or connected, leaving them without a drop of influence on the local voters. Considering that this is one of the main reasons people read local news in the first place – to track local politics – I can only assume they are determined to lose the slender audience they still have.

While Lynne Bronstein has long been the only reason to pick up the Observer, there’s a fresh rumor in the air that she may be headed for greener pastures soon, leaving that paper with nothing but their famous weekly ad for Sorrento’s. It might be gratuitous to point out, but that’s not a newspaper – that’s an advertising flyer.

The people who only read news printed on paper are an almost extinct species.

So, online local news post-Patch leaves the FrontPage as the go-to tabloid, and Culver City Times for gallery openings and guessing games.

And, if Culver City Crossroads could get even a quarter of it’s regular readers to subscribe, it would have a budget to cover news on a daily basis. The belief that news is free defeats the perspective of news.

As Ivins said about August, “Just because people are a little grumpy from the heat is no reason not to relish the confusion.”

 

 

www.culvercitysymphony.org

3 Comments

  1. FrontPage will never be my “go to” for anything because of its vicious treatment of President Obama, apparently because he is perceived to not be a strong enough supporter of Israel. It is unfortunate that so much local politics is carried out on the pages of FrontPage.

    How does one “subscribe” to Crossroads?

  2. Go to the green box on the upper left side of the page – click into the RSS feed (you will get the daily Crossroads at 3 pm) Then go to the paypal ‘donate’ box and drop in $12; you are then subscribed for a year.

    You can donate and not subscribe – You can even subscribe and not donate. But if you want to see more news, donations are crucial.

    Culver City Crossroads has the same problem that the NY Times and the LA Times have – lots of readers, and next to no one paying for the service. It’s an honor to be in such good company.

    News is not a luxury in our culture,it’s vital to democracy and it’s tragic for all of us that we hear more about celebrity pregnancies than we do about the state budget or federal violations of the constitution. That’s the big picture.

    We just want to be able to focus on local issues, and that takes resources.

  3. When I heard that Patch was folding, I thought, “Thank goodness we have Culver City Crossroads”. I am so grateful to have such a great resource–without you, I wouldn’t know anything that was going on here.

    I completely understand about needing subscribers. I recently made a small donation to CCC, but I didn’t really know how much was reasonable (for lack of a better term). I see in your comments above that you mentioned $12/year is a good amount. Might I suggest you making that more prominent on your home page (such as where you say, “Get the news delivered to your inbox”)? I think readers like me would be more than happy to subscribe/donate. Many of us don’t realize how much it takes to run your site and vs. how much (or little) you make from advertisers. Sometimes we need to be politely hit over the head with reality.

    Thanks again for everything!

    Bronwyn Jamrok, Culver City

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