Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zuckerman: Fund newspapers with online sports betting! Nick Pileggi: "Newspapers are not sacred papal offices."

It's hard for me to decide whether this is a brilliant, out-of-the-box idea for supporting a moribund print news industry or, you know, the worst idea ever. MoDo, rhapsodizing over a simpler, whore-and-rackets filled time for print:

Can vice save journalism?  

It’s an intriguing idea, especially since the profession had such a cozy relationship with vice in the old days.  

Arthur Gelb, The Times’s famed former culture impresario and managing editor, begins his wonderful memoir, “City Room,” by describing the racier Times newsroom of the 1940s. He says it was a time of clandestine sex in closets, a movie-star mistress of the publisher sashaying about and two tough bookies from Hell’s Kitchen at a corner desk taking bets as “wads of bills peeked from their pockets.”  

Yeah, the Golden Age of the newspaper. As ludicrous as Dowd's Guys and Dolls journimanism fantasy might be, is there merit in Mort Zuckerman's idea to give newspapers an online sports book franchise to support their operations? Kind of like (ahem) Native Americans and reservation casinos, one supposes?

It might well be feasible, but using a mechanism that would make erstwhile journalistic instruments into ripe targets for organized crime manipulation (although, arguably, newspapers already are) sounds like a terrible notion. And how might running sports book taint the papers' perceived journalistic integrity? Assuming that they still have any? Besides, one suspects this may be workable for a blue-collar tab (like Zuckerman's own Daily News) but not quite as doable for a staid, respectable Dowd's own New York Times

It's clear, however, that by proposing ideas like this, publishers are suggesting that it might be time to throw in the towel on news as an actual business, as opposed to a charitable endeavor conducted by some other commercial entity. You know, like how Stanley Kaplan test prep services supports the Washington Post

So, sure, let's find vices to pair up our papers with, then. The News can have sports book. The New York TImes can have a Ponzi scheme franchise. The Wall Street Journal? Legalized cocaine sales. The New York Post? "Escort" services

Sure, that'll work. 

Posted via email from OriginalSpin


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