Illustrious fools |

Illustrious fools

Don Rogers

Editor & Publisher, one of the trade mags, in September interviewed seven former bigtime newspaper editors who have retired from the biz.The funny part, at least to me, was the suggestion that half of them never read the long, naval-gazing tomes they took such pride in assigning back in the day. And they didnt read their local papers much, if at all. Too local. At least they were honest about it.Oh, a couple still love newspapers. Others cant bear to open one. Mostly they like papers less than they did when they ran them. That much is pretty clear from reading the piece.But thats natural, isnt it. Everything was better back when, never mind that the objective truth cant support the assertion.You hear it about Vail from oldtimers talking about how all the fun has left the place. So why are todays kids having such a great time? But dont worry. In time theyll grump, too. Its called aging. Reading about these illustrious guys and they are illustrious and they are all guys Im not sure they ever got it. Not now and not then. Thats partly why this business is in a fix, I think.They dont like entertaining and features now. Uh, huh. Guess what reader surveys find? Folks read news thats arranged in a story thats, um, entertaining to read, not just an article. They go for storytelling, which these guys appear to dismiss as feature. Im not sure what they were thinking when they ran their influential papers. Probably how important their work was, and their high place in society. It wasnt until they retired that they realized no one could bear to read this stuff, including them. They huff about todays papers, take little interest in their own communities and generally show they remain as they were, pretty much out of touch with those regular folks they were supposed to serve.So no, Im hardly impressed. These old fools didnt figure that much out until they retired? Give me a break. Apparently, the only ones dumber than these dudes were the execs who hired and promoted them.How do you edit a paper without having a clue about the lives and interests of most of your readers? The answer is simple, and little dispiriting. Basically you grow too highfalutin to get it. These very important fellas lost touch a long, long time ago with the rest of us.

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