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September 18, 2014

Comments

My own more limited experiences with the SJ mirror yours very closely.

Have you read the book, "The Chain Gang", by Richard McCord? It gives a great deal of attention to Gannet's arrival in Salem and presents a corporate picture that I found to be "must" reading.

I had a strong personal tendency to attribute failings of the SJ to individual editors and publishers.

The book is one of the things that convinced me this was a mistake. Most publishing decisions are driven by the Gannet corporate model, a system these -mostly men- have indentured themselves to usually out of a passion to be involved in paying journalism.

Deals with such devils are expensive. Mostly, I feel sorry for them. They have nowhere else to go.

Yes, I've read "The Chain Gang." In fact, I'm re-reading the chapters about Salem to refresh my memory about how Gannett unethically forced the Community Press out of existence many years ago.

Gannett plays tough. Illegally tough, it seemed, in this and other instances when it tried to squash competition. Salemians need to realize that the Statesman Journal isn't a community newspaper. It is a Gannett holding that happens to be in this community.

The SJ web site now is a clone of USA Today's and all other Gannett newspapers. Much of the content of the SJ comes from USA Today. The new publisher has been brought in to do Gannett's bidding, not to pursue journalistic excellence.

The Gannet business model for a "community" paper is a symbiosis with that community's C of C businesses.

It is the localized version of "what's good for GM is good for the country."

At its best it is sincerely held and appears to be able to fund a paper that actually does have some local news coverage. The economics of producing such a paper are brutal and getting worse.

But at its worst, naked, pocket lining cronyism is often the result.

It is interesting to watch your own efforts to develop some semblance of an alternative voice.
Keep up the good work.

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