October 30, 2009

When the Ship is Sinking is it Best to Put Hope in Dead Weight?

The National Post is this close to closing up shop. I'm amazed it's made it this far. As a business, the National Post is a failure. It has yet to turn a profit and losses are in the tens of millions each year on average. With some years way beyond that number.

The current owner, Canwest, is itself losing cash while being smothered by $4 billion of debt. Recently Canwest has sought bankruptcy protection as it tries to reorganize the company and attempt to crawl out from underneath the thumbs of its creditors.

So why does a bankrupt company try so desperately to hang on to a fledgling money-losing newspaper? I can only assume, it's a strategy for promotion and information control. Much like companies such as Rogers, which uses assets such as the Toronto Blue Jays, radio and TV stations, mobile phone and internet service to assist in promoting each other and control content.

This raises a huge question though? If you're ship is sinking and you have a load of dead weight aboard, do you hold hope that the load will suddenly become buoyant or do you relieve the pressure by dumping it over board?

I'm not an economist or business grad but I'm guessing the capitalist's response wouldn't have involved putting faith in a stack of un-sold newspaper. And if I'm wrong, then I'm of the mind basic reason is a thing of the past.

I've written before why I think the National Post is a lost cause. Whether it's due to it trying to occupy space that is already claimed by the Globe and Mail on one side and papers such as the Toronto Sun on the other. It portrays itself as this sophisticated, well-informed right-wing rag but in reality it is written like it's amateur, agenda-driven, tabloid-ish, blog-like rambling.

'Sophistication' is an area already claimed by the G&M and tabloid-ish, agenda-driven are areas claimed by the Sun group of papers. Additionally, these papers also have other benefits. The G&M is well established, fairly balanced if not slightly right-of-centre. The Sun group offers a very in-depth sports section, each paper is local and offers some TnA to boot.

Against these the National Post is lost in territory that is already claimed and has nothing unique or original to offer to make its mark. That isn't to say there aren't redeeming qualities or skilled writers. Unfortunately, they are too few to make a difference, they themselves being weighed down by the rest.

It seems to me that the best thing someone could do is just pull the plug after selling off any IP rights. While I don't like the idea of so many losing work. Many may and will likely find work elsewhere, especially those that have proven to be apart of the minority at the NP. They will join other media groups that currently exist, new ones that will pop up or go with those that survive the fall.

As for the right losing a voice and democracy retracting: It will all be okay. With the Sun-media chain and groups such as Metroland and the NP's sibling papers, the right will still have a voice. And I'm sure eventually someone will study the mistakes of the NP and properly insert themselves into the right-of-centre national information/news market and be a real contender rather than a never-was.



Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Quotes from people smarter than me...

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich" ~ JFK

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. " ~ Benjamin Franklin

"First it is necessary to stand on your own two feet. But the minute a man finds himself in that position, the next thing he should do is reach out his arms. " ~ Kristin Hunter

"When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans." ~ Jean Chretien

"Which is ideology? Which not? You shall know them by their assertion of truth, their contempt for considered reflection, and their fear of debate." ~ John Ralston Saul

"It is undoubtedly easier to believe in absolutes, follow blindly, mouth received wisdom. But that is self-betrayal." ~ John Ralston Saul

"Everybody dies, Tracey. Someone's carrying a bullet for you right now, doesn't even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you." ~ Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly, Episode 12)

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