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July 13, 2005

The fear of today's newspapers 

In May, when I began posting here regularly, I wrote a piece about how modern competition was less adversarial, or at least should be. It’s a pity when one is alone in an industry being the nice guy.
   A friend of mine works for a broadsheet and without revealing the conversation or his or her identity, told me his or her employer was frightened of Lucire. The theory, somehow, was that a monthly fashion magazine is a threat to a daily broadsheet, or at least a tabloid pretending to be a broadsheet. When pushed, it turned out that a with a single office in another city was a threat to the daily. The same fear led to my being removed from the society pages of one of its supplements this month, apparently.
   How petty and small-minded they are: as if I live to be in society pages. Gee, I am scared. I lived without appearing in society pages for most of my 18-year career, and got better known internationally, thank you. And this is nothing new, nor am I being singled out. But it shows how modern newspapers are losing their grip on modern , consumer demands and the “battle” with online media, including blogs. They have lost that hallowed ground, because being that petty is very out of step with twenty-first-century commerce.
   What is strange is that their actions have, just as between nations, alerted me that they feared li’l ol’ me. I never thought of that. Despite never pursuing a single client in this city, I decided that I might just have to, because their fear suggested it must be rather easy. Gosh, I was right. And we have successfully brought some on board.
   To think: if they were accommodating, professional and generous, if they treated someone in the way that I had treated them, with dignity and sufficient respect, that they would have held on to their clients. No longer. The more they fear, the more I might just take advantage of that. David could beat Goliath. Rupert Murdoch could buy The Times. And last year, the took down Dan Rather. Some papers will survive this century, but I have my doubts over others.

Postscript: The newspaper's sister newspapers (and even some competitors) don't have this problem. Guess some behave like newspapers, others behave like little kiddies in a playground.
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