Somewhere on the outskirts of the great beyond there is a smoke-filled watering hole where Walter Cronkite is having a drink with Jimmy Breslin and Edward R. Murrow. Across the room, Ben Bradlee is sitting with Ernie Pyle, while Mike Wallace and Sam Donaldson order a scotch at the bar. It’s the kind of place where you hang your overcoat and fedora by the door.
My guess is they are all probably talking about the state of the news business today, and maybe like at any good Irish wake, they are raising a glass to a departed friend — democracy (or at least one of the bulwarks of a democracy — a free press).
Although media has been under attack for the last several years, and the words “fake news” are used to describe anything one doesn’t agree with, in the last week the continued assault on the media came from a different direction — the bankers, or worse yet the hedge fund manager.
On Feb. 1, the McClatchy Company, which owns properties such as the Miami Herald and the Kansas City Star, announced that 450 employees would be offered “voluntary buyouts.”
Gannett, which owns USA Today, the Indianapolis Star and the Evansville Courier & Press, announced editors and senior journalists at local papers owned by Gannett in regions across the U.S. could see cuts that affect as many as 400 people. In total, Gannett owns over 100 news outlets.