Death by a Thousand Cuts

Re: “Good Journalism Good for the Journalism Business” by Michael Miner, July 30

One problem I see with this is the case of the Des Moines Register. The Register slashed and slashed under Gannett, and profits soared in the first few years. In fact, Gannett has made a bundle over the years with the same formula in market after market.

Now, of course, they’re suffering like everyone else due to the very factors that Thorson reports. But our Quick-Buck Corporate Buckaroos don’t care about the long run. —Pelham

Some might find the conclusion of an Associate Dean/Researcher of Journalism that “Newspapers need more journalists!” startling. It is actually fairly predictable.

All paper-based news publications are struggling to find their way as the business model changes. That’s the nature of all commerce. Things change. Technology changes. The most important factor in business, the needs of the customer, changes.

As paper publications shrink (including this one) it obviously does not mean that less journalism is the result. The recent calamity in Iran couldn’t be completely silenced as many brave Iranians tweeted, posted, and blogged to the world, eager for information.

Journalism is just coming from a different vendor. Sorry to all those journalism PhDs, but this just seems to be what the customer wants, and there are thousands on the Internet to provide the new product.

Unless those desperate business managers who own paper media can find a way to lure back the billions of dollars now chasing Internet eyes, print media will fade away. Is this bad? Would better mainframe computer designs have helped companies like Honeywell and DEC, now defunct giants who wouldn’t see the exploding new world in PCs? —

What is bringing down so many papers right now is the earlier cynical attitude of publishers. Their sins are catching up now on them. And it is also possible and likely that as the media continues, more papers have to close, also the chances for genuine journalism will increase again. Because for that will always be a market. Folks just need to think more practical occasionally—and hope for a good new start in a maybe less ridiculous set-up they now are still in. —JF

Death to iTunes?

I found Mr. Raymer’s article “In Search of the iTunes Killer” [July 30] most informative, but whenever I read a journalistic piece on music, the Internet and the industry’s attempts to turn a bigger profit, I am left searching for answers to the less-reported question, Will the artist be paid? Even a cursory acquaintance with the practices of major labels suggests that their efforts to police the Internet and turn rogue operations into legitimate (paying) Web sites are not acts of benevolence on behalf of the maligned musicians who provided the content to begin with. Without the content, we wouldn’t even have this discussion. Still, most artists take a reduced royalty on sales from new technological arms of the business; that’s supposing they get paid at all—artists who have limited resources and who are unable to go up against large corporations in litigation may not get paid at all, since, really, what are they going to do about it? This blurs the line between “legitimate” business and some of those discussed in Mr. Raymer’s article. —Tom McCarthy

I don’t see any mention of emusic, which is a subscription model and a pretty good one. Sony recently made their catalog of labels accessible alongside several prominent indies. I go here first, and if they don’t have it I will look elsewhere. —cthorlton

Just buy your music from the Russians. 15 cents per song, instead of $1.

Nobody’s been able to prove it’s illegal yet. —Moon

I’ve been following Raymer’s series of articles dealing with the legitimacy of p2p networks and DRM & the RIAA, but I think this article would have benefited from mentioning some mp3 retailers that did have a business model that has succeeded without pirating. has sold high quality mp3s (autonomous to iTunes) to a worldwide community of house, dub and techno DJs for about five years now with no issues.

In short, I think Raymer is slipping with his amount of research. Too much party on tour, buddy. —kwiz

Miles Raymer replies:

Beatport is more like a good little specialty store—with a selection of a certain flavor of music so well curated that you’re willing to take chances on their recommendations. Beatport is to iTunes as Dusty Groove is to the Virgin Megastore—I much prefer one over the other, but I don’t expect most music buyers to feel the same way.

Has Theater Left the Building?

Re: “The New Board at Theatre Building Chicago Has Big Plans—and They Don’t Include TBC’s Longtime Leadership” by Deanna Isaacs, July 30

The fate of the arts in an increasingly corporate world has always been precarious. Joan and TBC have offered one of the most prized sanctuaries in our city against the homogenization and dumbing-down of the theatrical arts for over a generation. Having been on the receiving end of a similar board coup d’état well over twenty years ago (of a promising local theatre that withered on the vine several years later), I’ll admit to a possible lack of total objectivity, but what was wrong then is even more wrong now, in the current environment. Quite simply, TBC is where and what it is today because of Joan Mazzonelli, Ruth Higgins and Byron Schaffer. Anyone who maintains that it can fire Joan and retain any of its true identity (let alone integrity) has clearly never truly appreciated the unique and precious environment she has made possible since before many of the performers working there now were even born. I hope and pray it’s not yet too late to reverse such a clearly wrong-headed move. —Scott Grannan