U.S. Paper of Record caught off guard by questions about newspapers

The video of the Daily Show visit to The New York Times is flying around the Web today and it’s devastating — to the Times and to anyone pulling for newspapers to survive the digital revolution. Of course the Daily Show played the New York Times from beginning to end as doomed straw man, with Daily Show reporter Jason Jones hamming it up and the video cut together to high comedic effect.

But still!

It’s difficult to believe the Times people had no better response prepared for a Daily Show visit. The Times seems to be moving to shutter the Boston Globe, which is just this week’s incredible bad news for the newspaper industry. And yet the top editors and PR people at the Times weren’t ready to answer questions about why newspapers are still viable? Are these people not constantly thinking productively about these questions? Have they really not been considering endlessly why “aged news” is still worth producing and reading? Or how the paper and the Times organization is evolving and still relevant? Where were the informed and clever rejoinders to Jones? Is it naive to think that if there were some, the Daily Show would have included them in the piece? Let’s see the out-takes!

The fear is that the Times had no answers to the glaringly obvious questions posed by the Daily Show because the Times culture is arrogant and insulated, even now. And that’s why its balance sheets are “black and white and red all over” and it’s also the reason why that fact might not change any time soon, or anyway soon enough to save the paper.

Denver Post editors and managers take note. Some smart local comic team is probably planning to arrive at your newsroom with a camera tomorrow. Say something smart, please.

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