Your Industry Is Dying. Congratulations!

Things seem mighty boring around this burg lately. It's got me in a foul mood, to tell you the truth. You'd think with all the journalists working in South Florida (600 or so?) there'd be a lot more interesting stuff to read. Seriously, what do you people do with your time?

Oh yeah, your daily beats.

"I don't have enough time to do anything interesting!"

How many times have I heard that one? Just another of the great failings of the embattled newspaper industry. Yeah, used to be that shit would fly. Get some faithful stenos out of college, fill them in their respective slots, and let them crank out the same tired stale stories year after year. Hey, circulation was steady, the market was cornered, and everybody had a chicken in a pot at home.

New world. Look at the Miami Herald. It's been hit by an 11 percent decline in the six-month period ending at the end of March. It's down to 240,000. Yeah, under a quarter mil in Miami. Those sound more like stinking Jacksonville Times-Union numbers to me. Remember when the Herald had a circulation of about 400,000? Wasn't that long ago. My God, how the mighty have fallen.

And what is Anders Gyllenhaal doing? Who knows. He's not saving the newspaper, that's for sure. Then you've got Sam Zell and his chief innovation officer, Lee Abrams, over there at Sun-Sentinel's Tribune Co. talking about making the newspaper "the Disneyland of the mind." And what do we get? Same shit, only softer. Have you noticed that the Sentinel has taken to allowing newsless features to dominate the front page lately. There's the MLK assassination anniversary special. The "low-paying labor of love" that is NBA stats-keeping. The fascinating art of "high-tech rescues at sea."

These are just in the past couple of weeks. The problem is that nobody is going to pick up a newspaper to read these things. Newspapers have to be more aggressive, more investigative, more confrontational, more of what they're supposed to be. They've got to get off their prissy perch on the sidelines and get into the game (and, hopefully, eschew easy cliches like that one). It's hard, uncomfortable, uneasy work -- and there's no better place to do it than South Florida.

But I digress. What I wanted to do was share with you the Sunshine State Awards page. Yes, that's right, even while our industry is rotting on the vine, there's always plenty of time to pat ourselves on the back.

I was going to wait until all the results were in, but it looks like it might be a while. There's good work on the list (especially something in the sportswriting category by a fellow awfully close to this blog), but overall I wasn't impressed. First, New Times was put in the small category. Didn't ask for it and didn't want it. Second, there's too many of the damn things. Check out the the list -- damn thing looks like a corporate ledger. "Age Beat Reporting"? Serious and light feature reporting? Consumer reporting? (At least there we have the delicious irony that the Sun-Sentinel's Help Team didn't win anything in that category, for which the entire newspaper seems engineered). Criminal and civil law reporting? Social policy reporting?

Why stop there? Doesn't everybody deserve a category? For Ralph de la Cruz, it can be the "Wife Sniping Reporting Award." Or for Daniel Vazquez, we can have the "Technological Gizmo Pumping Award." Give Kingsley Guy the "By-Rote Right-Wing Regurgitation Award." The list could go on and on.

Oh, almost forgot, congratulations to all the winners.

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