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Wealth without work 

Every once in a while, I’ve been known to pick on other news organizations. Why? Well, most of the time when I turn sights on this paper, the editorial staffers get all weepy and come back with threats that they’ll beat me with large sticks.

If you were glued to the Tribune’s online news updates a few days ago, you might have noticed a story about a Cal Poly student who was reported missing for a few days.

Then, it seemed, there was a sigh of relief. The next update was headlined “Missing Cal Poly student found.” The same line appeared in the story’s lead. It was enough of a positive that the first comment posted by “Peter Piper” was simply, “Yay!” Other versions of the story, however, such as the one on KSBY, read: “Missing Cal Poly student found dead.”

It took about 20 minutes, but the Trib did repost the story with the crucial word intact. Tough to say if this was a typo—a major typo—or a bigger screw up. Journalists aren’t robots and are known to blow it from time to time. Usually the protocol is tuck your tail, print a correction, and move on. In this case, they swept the mistake under the Internet rug, going so far as to remove all the early hopeful comments.

I could be going soft, but maybe I should give them a pass this time. After all, now when readers flip open the paper, it’s going to be a hell of a lot thinner—thinner on top of earlier cuts, which is to say borderline invisible. Think Taylor Swift on a three-day meth bender thin. Among the paper’s more bulimic changes lately are the loss of stock quotes and a condensed local section a few days per week.

Something about the changes seems so fitting, considering the loss of local news, probably at the hands of the corporate scumbag overlords of the McClatchy company. The Trib’s publisher put a shiny coat of PR on the whole thing, saying, “These are difficult decisions for us to make because we know the changes will impact readers, but we believe they’re necessary to preserve our core mission—to provide quality news and information locally.”

Why, then, are media elite douche bags like McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt telling Editor & Publisher things are all sunshine and kittens? He told the industry journal ad revenues are up. “Finally, finally, improving,” he was quoted.

We all know the economy sucks, and print news is gasping its last few breaths like a writhing fish on the deck of a sinking dinghy in a rising, global warming-flooded sea. The biggest rock in my shoe is watching fellow journalists—yes, I consider myself a journalist—get tossed into a bleak-as-shit job market because of debt-loaded companies like McClatchy. If you look to the east, they’re doing the same things. According to the Associated Press, McClatchy-owned Washington Times is shaving almost 150 jobs. Other McClatchy papers like The Miami Herald are also getting railed.

But back to Washington: “Times president and publisher Jonathan Slevin said the cuts were part of a strategy to transform the paper into a 21st century media company,” AP reported.

I’m noticing that each time a paper gets gutted, it comes out saying it’s part of a transformation in line with the era. The message here seems to be that the 21st century is one with only a thin veneer of reporters and local news. Maybe that’s why the damned TMZs of the world are breaking news stories these days. Do you think Perez Hilton is
going to ask hard-hitting questions at a
D.C. press conference? And no, facelift and boob job questions don’t count as hard hitting, unless they’re directed at Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Speaking of which, I’m still conflicted on federal bailouts—even more so now that I have to partially agree with Congressman Kevin McCarthy. He sent out a press release the other day flapping on about how Geithner should let the $700 billion TARP program expire this year. Normally I like to read such releases, quietly mutter and curse, and go about my day. Then the other morning, as Geithner announced he was continuing the program, he seemed to emphasize the need to save the big banks and all his buddies in the financial sector who climbed the collective corpses of our dreams to save themselves, but casually mentioned the need to help out average American families who actually need bailouts and could benefit from one.

’Tis the season for families to warm themselves on the burning promises that our government will save Main Street and crack down on Wall Street.

It’s also the season for giant inflatable snow globes on lawns. I’m not sure when this trend started or when stings of lights stopped being garish enough, but seriously, these things should only be used to spot obnoxious people from space. They’re white bread, Wal Mart, visual insults. Every one of them should come bundled with a wife-beater undershirt and an eight ball of blow.

Bye-bye, Baker

To Cal Poly’s soon-to-be “graduate,” I have a few parting words I’d like to say: As you move on to this next platform of your life, I urge you to take heed of the challenges you will face on the path to wisdom and truth. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Shut up, calm down, and for God’s sake somebody get me a burger!” Then he said something about the seven deadly sins, spiritual nourishment, and practicing charity and forbearance or you’ll shrivel up and die.

As far as I can tell, from the moment Warren Baker climbed out of the primordial polytechnic ooze and stood at the pinnacle of Cal Poly as it thrust generation after generation of eager, young, soon-to-be job hunters into the world, he’s recycled the same speech. It’s not bad. Actually, it’s kind of inspiring in a JFK sort of way, if only for that Bostonian drawl. But after 30 some odd years, when it comes time to make that last graduation speech, may I suggest: Please give the dusty old rag a spit and polish before sending the last class you personally shepherded off into the world.

But keep that last line I like: “We’ll keep the porch light on just for you.”

The Shredder practices politics without principles and pleasure without conscience. Send morals to shredder@newtimesslo.com.

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