YOU are to blame for the death of investigative journalism and the award-winning documentaries it inspires declares Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Print newspapers just can’t compete with the expectation of free online news, which focuses more on fluff pieces. And what hard-hitting news they do report often relies heavily on reporting from newspapers. Oliver himself admitted to being guilty of doing the same for this story. He noted that there has been “a decline of 35%” in statehouse press according to the Pew Research Center. Consequently, political corruption will go unchecked said David Simmon, former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of The Wire.
Newspapers aren’t just cutting jobs. They’re changing the way they operate to resemble online media. Tribune publishing is rebranding itself as Tribune Online Content or Tronc.
“Which sounds like the noise an ejaculating elephant makes or more appropriately the sound of a stack of print newspapers being thrown into a dumpster,” Oliver joked.
It doesn’t just sound dumb. It’s dumbing down the news. Tronc will aggregate content and optimize it (read: regurgitate), employee artificial intelligence to automate packaging (read: stock photo) and select stories for increased consumption (read: animal stories).
John Oliver shines spotlight on the problem
The result is not only the death of the newspaper but also films like Spotlight, which documented the Boston Globe breaking the church sex scandal. Instead expect movies like Stoplight, a parody starring Jason Sudeikis as a Managing Editor more concerned with getting clicks. He’s unimpressed with a story about political corruption pitched by Bobby Cannavale, the last real journalist at the Chronicle rebranded Chorp. The paper decides to go with Rose Byrne’s piece about a cat that looks like a raccoon. “Hopefully we can get to the point where we can do raccoon cats and City Hall but we’re not there so fuck you!” Brian Doyle-Murray paraphrases Tribune owner Sam Zell’s inspirational speech to his staff.