Thursday, October 16, 2014

Knox News Sentinel Kills Best Knoxville Newspaper

The news business seems more business than news.

Cable, network and local news devote most of their time to being entertaining. Showbiz ain't news.

Newspapers are dwarfed by online media, despite their efforts to evolve into online media. Somehow the concepts of paid writers and editors have lost all appeal to publishers. Case in point: the Knoxville News Sentinel just killed their own publication, Metro Pulse due to .... well, publisher Patrick Birmingham, aka President of Knoxville's Chamber of Commerce. Metro Pulse folks were gagged as soon as the closure was announced under penalty of loss of severance packages. Classy.

One constant writer with MP, Mike Gibson shared his take on the demise via comments at KnoxViews:

"And I want to say this: Patrick Birmingham is a spineless, half-bright corporate weasel. He never knew what the hell Metro Pulse was, or what to do with it. He and Scripps' team of pencil-necked corporate bean counters were always harassing the editors for not meeting some imaginary profit projections, goals conceived in an airless vacuum chamber on the planet Venus by drug-addled baboons. He was also prone to making veiled innuendoes these last three-four years or so that he wanted to somehow merge and MP, or else combine parts of the staffs, or some other damned idiot thing. Last year, after MP had just finished turning a fairly reasonable profit, he rewarded the staff by threatening to break the paper's lease at 602 S. Gay Street and move the entire operation into the Sentinel building, thus destroying any hope for maintaining editorial independence.

"My observation is that Birmingham is the idiot who is most responsible for this atrocity. Metro Pulse was indeed turning a profit (although its projections for the coming year were only break-even, that still means it was a very viable concern in the context of print media. At the very least, it was a property that one should have reasonably been able to shop to another interested party.) The lion's share of blame should be cast at Birmingham's weasel feet."

"I struggle to find a comparison between a publication that has been with Knoxville for over 20 years and an absolutely horrid excuse for journalism that has nothing to do with its namesake. Perhaps it would be in the interest of those operating the Facebook to consider posts about Knoxville and those who make up its populace before posts wishing Usher a happy birthday. In a land of steak, Scripps took away all knives and forks but assures us that the spoons provided should be able to handle our eating needs.

This is more than “just an arts and culture paper”. Be it out of lack of knowledge or lack of concern, Scripps (and the KNS by proxy) are responsible for a magnitude of damage to Knoxville. Small niche businesses are impacted because their demographic is not the KNS. Local non-commercial stations like WUTK are impacted as one of the station’s tags, “Winner of the Metro Pulse ‘Best of Knoxville’ award (x) years in a row” is no longer a relevant statement — not to mention the mountain of cross-promotion that both medias provided one another. I fail to have even the slightest trust in the culinary opinions of a media outlet that has covered everything /but/ Metro Pulse today. Your parent publication created this issue — have a sense of ownership. Open a dialog. That’s what social media is for versus “McDonalds invites icky questions about its food”.

The real sad thing is that the Scripps Co., owners of the KNS, are clueless as to what to do with a newspaper so they are abandoning the ones they own and are trying to get into tv or radio or ... something:

"The E.W. Scripps Co. will say goodbye to newspapers, including the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Memphis Commercial Appeal, and hello to radio in a merger and spinoff transaction with the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper."

Farewell news of Knoxville. Those of us who live in East TN and write about it all on our on will soldier on.

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