Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oct. Surprise: MacKenzie and Grimsley say, 'Boo!'

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is in much the same trouble as many daily newspapers. Our local fishwrap is not taking in the ad revenue it needs to make ends meet.

Adjustments have been made -- the paper has shrunk, its roster of talent has shriveled. And, that painful process had been underway for some time before the economic meltdown on Wall St. What's next?

Well, instead of being smart and lowering the price -- so more people might see the ads -- the RT-D raised its single copy price in September, from 50 cents to 75 cents. Desperate times apparently call for, ah ... desperation.

Yesterday's editorial section offered about as pathetic a signal as I can imagine, in an election year about "change," for a daily trying to catch up with 2008's reality. The editorial page ignored it own list of reasons to endorse Mark Warner for senator, so it could endorse Jim Gilmore -- an awkward politician, known for his stubbornness, who is probably going to lose by 30 points.

This would have been such an easy time for the RT-D's editorial writers to unveil a willingness recognize that genuine talent should sometimes trump staying true to an ideological school. Alas, it still doesn't matter how lame the Republican is, old habits die hard.

On the OpEd page it was worse. The warmed-over opinions of the RT-D's retired warhorses from its old days as the state newspaper of record, Ross MacKenzie (depicted above) and Edward Grimsley, were featured.

MacKenzie, who for some time hasn't seemed to be able to hold a thought for more than a couple of paragraphs, cut and pasted the words of others into his space. The words he chose were all meant to frighten voters away from Sen. Barack Obama. Click here to read his scary-as-an-orange-leisure-suit "column."

Grimsley, at least did some writing -- he goofed around with Obama's middle name.
... He is Democrat Barack (H-word) Obama. Because his middle name is popular with Muslims, Obama's supporters accuse people who use it of trying to link him to anti-American terrorists, most of whom happen also to be of that faith. So throughout this long and tiresome presidential campaign, the media have identified him only as "Barack Obama," even as they have referred to his chief rival for the Democratic nomination as "Hillary Rodham Clinton."
Click here to consume Grimsley's candy corn, just in time for Halloween.

As far as what to call a person goes, isn't it just good manners to call them what they ask us to call them? That is, unless we have an agenda.

If Sen. Clinton wants us to include her maiden name, so be it. If Sen. John McCain wants us to leave out his middle name -- Sidney -- that's fine. To do otherwise would be petty.

Looking at that double-truck spread of opinions dredged up from yesteryear made me shake my head and think this -- how can the Richmond Times-Dispatch change to serve today's readers, if it just can't get out of its own way?

Like, unless they are selling a product or service that appeals to whatever is left of the Massive Resisters and Cold Warriors, why would any business looking to appeal to an audience under 45-years-old buy an advertisement in that withering newspaper?

Can a daily newspaper be kept alive on ads for adult diapers and hearing aids?

-- Words and art by F. T. Rea

Update: Read Don Harrison's post at Save Richmond -- on Pantele & RT-D endorsement.

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