Taking note of Bill O’Reilly’s “cheerleading the downfall” of newspapers–“he reacted with glee when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was forced to go Web-only. More recently in his column, O’Reilly similarly wisecracked about the New York Times‘ financial woes”–MediaWeek editor Mike Shields (Editor & Publisher, 5/18/09) challenges “O’Reilly’s theory for why these publications are in such deep trouble”:
Because they have suddenly shifted radically left in their coverage, and readers are rejecting it. That’s why he’s happy.
That theory doesn’t sync with the thinking of most sensible people in the media who understand the industry is going through massive macro changes, and that many Americans–particularly the young–are permanently changing their reading habits away from newspapers and magazines. Not because of political leanings, mind you, but because the generally free technology of the Web trumps the tradition of carbon-based, physically distributed media every time.
Not to mention the deleterious effects of an ever-greedy Wall Street, phenomenally irresponsible corporate ownership and the press’ own efforts to destroy any remaining trust the public may have in their reportage. But to Shields, “there’s another interesting aspect to O’Reilly’s anti-newspaper diatribe”:
During this horrid economic cycle, when millions of Americans are out of jobs and terrified about their future employment prospects, rooting for American businesses to go under seems way out of touch to me, especially for a commentator who’s constantly talking about sticking up for regular “folks.” It kind of sounds, well, un-American.