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Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey

December 23, 2010

This post is not about Paul Godfrey. However, he did spark its idea in my head. You see, there are people in Toronto and Vancouver who is really interested in what this blog has to say about Paul Godfrey. I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

I sincerely hope that that man is Paul Godfrey,  although I doubt that Godfrey Googles his name as often as I do. (On a barely related tangent, should Google, when used as a verb, be capitalized? Discuss…)

Whatever the case, it’s a good sign, because one of my wet dreams is that this blog will communicate to folks like Godfrey or David Black — or more likely their underlings — how their journalists believe their dozens of newspapers could be improved.

One of the problems with the ownership structure of community newspapers is that the men and women (but almost always men) who pull the strings are often hundreds of kilometres away from the newspapers they manage. I doubt they read any of the newspapers on a regular basis and, to make matters worse, the people who manage the websites and control 90 per cent of the content on the web are often in an entirely different location. I’m not sure what to call it. Decentralized centralization? Centralized decentralization? Declusterfuck? Whatever the case, it totally defies the laws of physics.

What I’m trying to say is that there is a major lack of communication between the lower and upper ranks of media companies.

I once wrote a story that touched on Toyota’s “lean” system of manufacturing. One of the principles of lean is that workers are encouraged to find efficiencies and add their opinions about how the workplace can be improved. Google does a similar thing. There’s nothing of the sort in Black Press or Postmedia. A journalist with great ideas has no way of relaying them to the people who control the purse strings or the papers’ web content. Instead the reporter bitches to the editor, who agrees with his reporter and shakes his head sympathetically. (Right now every editor reading this is both nodding and wondering if one of his reporters is behind this blog). At some point in the conversation, someone higher up the food change will be called an “idiot” or something of the sort. And that’s where it stops, because that’s where it’s encouraged to stop.

Hopefully, this blog can serve as a way to get those messages on the ground to the people at the top of the corporate structure.

I can dream at least.

Late night pissed-off addendum: I also doubt that I”m alone in harbouring a seething rage at the fact that newsroom budgets are still below ground even as a “struggling” newspaper is defined as one that does not make enough money, rather than as one that is losing money. The only thing I hate about my job is thinking about the twisted economics that limit how well I can do my job. Unfortunately, I’m confronted with those limitations far too often.

Merry freakin’ Xmas.

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Photo by John Lillibridge via Flickr.


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