Topic: "Pulitzer Means Squat"(8)
Frodo sat down with Mr. Charles Ferguson, Editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and discussed the impact of political endorsements by a major metropolitan newspaper. Since this was the theme of Frodo's Master's Thesis, he was hoping to discover that Ferguson was a hack, on somebody's payroll, and that Frodo would win a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative effort therein. Frodo learned that Ferguson was a Neiman Fellow, and an Honors Graduate of Harvard University. He was also a good guy, a brilliant journalist, and somebody who loved the City of Orleans just as much as the Hobbit.
Frodo thought of Mr. Ferguson this day. It was announced yesterday that the New Orleans Times-Picayune would only be hard-copy published three times each week. The City is now the only, but perhaps merely the first, major metropolitan market in all of Middle Earth to be without a daily newspaper. Surely, the powers that be are strenuous in their argument that on-line publishing will be constant, and that the flow of information will be instantaneous, but that does not satisfy the Hobbit at all.
The New Orleans Times Picayune won a Pulitzer Prize for its 2006 reporting of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Without power, water, or public services nearly the entire staff stayed at their desks, answered questions, and sought answers. They were notified, after the fact, yesterday, that nearly all of them will either lose their jobs, or have their work-hours significantly reduced.
The New Orleans States-Item, the afternoon daily newspaper, was acquired by the Times-Picayune several years ago. The States-Item was the only major metropolitan newspaper to endorse George McGovern for the Presidency in his race against Richard Nixon. Now a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, and the subordinate segment which first saw the devil in that drawing room are changed, if not something totally different.
Frodo is well-known, and oft-quoted, for his proclamation that "Change is Good." He wonders however, in this case, if he isn't witness to the creation of merely another 24-hour cable news network. Could there be another whole group of attractive talking-heads out there, eager to make a name for themselves by seeing which can yell the loudest, or speak over the conversation most often, to further separate the citizen from any level of interest in the community in which they all live? Perhaps that gentleman at the table in the back of the bar, sipping a glass of single-malt, is thinking about that graduate student he once met, wondering whatever happened to him. Ferguson probably hopes that the Hobbit went on to become a personal care physician, in Taiwan.