By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Gene Weingarten’s presumptuous lecture

I’m genuinely puzzled by all the praise this Gene Weingarten column in The Washington Post has received. Not that the collapse of the news business is Weingarten’s fault, but I’m put off by the finger-wagging, lecturing tone — the exemplar of a failed industry presuming to instruct the visionary who just might save his job. Just listen to us, Jeff, and you’ll be fine! I assume Bezos will not take his advice.

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  1. This line really jumped out:

    “…enormously talented and dedicated journalists who are, at the moment, terrified at the prospect of change we don’t really understand.”

    This “change” has been going on for over a decade, which would seem to be plenty of time for journalists to learn about it, no? Heck, they even teach the “new journalism” in communications schools now.

    This same perspective is rife in traditional book publishing, too. These ebook acolytes have it all wrong! Paper books are here to stay! If you’re not published by us, you’re not a real writer!

    And in both cases, it’s all Amazon’s (Bezos’) fault.

  2. BP Myers

    How brave of him to battle against running articles praising the hard work of high school student achievers. Pleased as well to know the cost of a 2003 Honda Civic (Edmunds has it at about $4,880) is about 1% of Gene Weingarten’s net worth.

    At any rate, I stopped paying any attention to Mr. Weingarten when I saw he used a photo of a pile of feces as his twitter avatar. Edgy!

    • Dan Kennedy

      @BP: The turd is a real turnoff every time he pops up on Twitter.

  3. Suzanne Dion

    Thanks for this posting. I had the identical reaction to Weingarten’s column. Maybe Bezos will decide he doesn’t need to have a “conscience” like Weingarten around his newsroom …

  4. Martin Callaghan

    Peter: As Meatloaf would say, you took the words right of my mouth.” Absolutely stunning to me that in an industry that has been declining for at least a decade and has been in down-right free-fall for the last five years, some have obviously chosen to stick their heads in the sand rather than study, analyze, and form strategies on how to adapt to the change.

    Our craft (Printing Pressmen) has lost hundreds of jobs locally, and tens of thousands of jobs nationally. Not from the “terror” of change as Weingarten puts it, but from the reality of that change. So what were we to do? Take the Weingarten approach and lecture owners? Well, to be honest, we tried that. It worked until about 2006. We soon realized that we needed a new approach.

    It’s astonishing that in 2013 in this ever-changing newspaper environment, some think lecturing owners is still the way to go.

  5. Ken Rowland

    Dan, Your “Comments” section here is more insightful than a quick read of the pompous Weingarten banality. Certainly more entertaining and thoughtful. Presumptuous indeed! Gene, Gene, Gene: “I think I speak for more than myself when I say that the main reason I have high hopes for your stewardship is that Don Graham said it was the right thing for the paper. He said you are the right guy. That was enough for me”? Whoa, gunslinger! How many asses are you going to kiss here? Do cleanse us of your dung. Don’t let the garage door slam shut on the rear brake-lights of your ’03 Civic… AND, btw, enjoy freelancing your vacuous vapor-‘ware’. We’re in a DIGITAL age; play catch up! There might be a “Silver” thingamajig in it for you, but I doubt it.

  6. Mike Benedict

    Journalists are the last people I would trust to run my business. (And my business is publishing.) There’s a big difference between what you think consumers should care about and what they do care about.

  7. I posted this on Facebook and on the WaPo site. I did not get any “Likes”

    “I am bothered by the self aggrandizing, tough guy arrogance of this piece. Tropic Magazine was essentially a not-for-profit division of a low profit enterprise in the 1980s and 1990s. It was fun to read—when I saw it occasionally—but had Tropic and the rest of the newspaper industry been managed like a real business during those years the pain of the last decade might have been lessened or avoided.”

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