Slate’s satirical infomercial aimed at the stubbornly catastrophic newspaper business ricocheted around the Twittersphere yesterday. Something’s not right about it, though. Three years ago, this video would have seemed remarkably steely eyed and therefore funny. Now it has a somber grave-dancing quality, which is strange coming from Slate, a Washington Post product. The video jokingly lumps newspaper employees into the same category with Sally Struthers’ hungry developing-nation kids. Is that funny?
The dead-tree people don’t have it so bad. But they don’t have it so great either.
Newspaper chiefs deserve mocking. They have been failing at their job for decades, long before the arrival of the web, which only underlined their arrogance. The pleading righteousness with which they have been overselling the societal value of newspapers as fundamental to democracy has only underlined the extent of their failure. They didn’t live up to those lofty claims on a lot of levels and they didn’t make money to pay their employees, either.
But that’s the chiefs.
The Slate video touches on all of that but it’s just too somber– or something. It over-tries. It wants to get in on an act. It should be funny. Parts of it are funny. But it is depressing. See for yourself: