Friday, February 22, 2008

The Smell of Cinnamon Toast Part 3

The Other Shoe

Lawyers, Brad and Jack tag-teamed for the next half hour about the vision of Aalaxis Media. I have to admit, these guys were well-rehearsed and the longer they talked the better it sounded to all of us. Aalaxis, they told us, had a global view. They likened the company to BBC but without the Brit bias. It was Aalaxis's mission to report the important stories from around the world with an emphasis on "why should I, the reader, care about this story." Aalaxis was concerned about Global Warming, fragile ecosystems, displaced populations, fair trade and of course, wars and not just the ones we knew about. Aalaxis's board of directors boasted of two Nobel Prize winning economists so it was important they educate their readers on the realities of economics.

"We believe that it is our job... and now yours, to educate as well as entertain," Jack began to sum up. "and that includes local news as well because all politics and economics is local. We're crusaders, people - I know that term has taken on some bad connotations over the years but the things we're crusading about are important."

Richard stuck up his hand. Eyes rolled.

"Sounds great, Jack but what if our readers don't want to be educated about upheavals in Yak butter futures or the elections in Turkmenistan? Heck, most of our readers couldn't find Canada on a map even if they wanted to. " Richard grinned.

Brad stepped forward. "Marleigh," he said to the couture-clad assistant "you want to get that guy's name." He smiled broadly letting us know it was a joke.

Richard spoke up again. "Hi Marleigh, my name is Spencer Dawes and if you're going to be in town for a while, I'd like to show you around."

The real Spencer Dawes, the semi-retired guy from the copy desk dozing in the corner, roused when he heard his name. Nobody laughed. Marleigh ignored Richard's comment and Brad continued.

"No, you're right. Newspapers and media in general have abdicated their reponsibility to educate their readers. I could cite you the statistics you know all too well. What's hot" Stupid celebrity news -- if you can call it that -- lurid crime stories, sex scandals. Schadenfreude, it's everywhere you go. It's time that news outlets did what they're supposed to do. It's a sacred trust that our founding fathers thought important enough to include in the Constitution."

A voice from the back of the room: "And circulation drops 90%."

"Certainly we expect some push back but we fully expect that what we lose in print we'll more than make up for in online. But print is not dead, it's not even sick, it's just a different market" he added hurriedly.

Cyrus and I both looked at Becks who was smiling remembering her own comment in Simone's office.

Cyrus chose this moment to insert what he considered to be the fly in this whole jolly ointment. "But doesn't foreign ownership...Middle Eastern ownership in this case change the dynamics?"

The group registered their surprise with squeaking chairs and mutterings

Brad didn't bat an eye. "Cy, I'm so glad you brought that up because it was next on my agenda."

Nobody called Cyrus, Cy but the fact that Brad knew who he was was not lost on anyone.

Coming Soon: The Other, other shoe


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