The following is a guest post submitted by Paul Ramon
Thursday, The Desert Sun published an editorial taking mediocre coffeemaker Starbucks to task for its decision to no longer carry newspapers in its 10 million locations. The argument, which you can read here (assuming your digital access payments are up to date), is essentially that Starbucks is somehow obligated to carry an outside vendor’s product — regardless of how poorly it’s selling — simply because doing so “supports local journalism.”
As if stacking countless unread newspapers every day does anything but waste paper.
But seriously, it’s pretty ridiculous to suggest that any for-profit corporation be obligated to support another. I mean, don’t you think Starbucks would discontinue those nasty Pumpkin Spice Lattes if people stopped lining up like crackheads to hand over their hard-earned money for a fix? (Don’t @ me.)
For those unaware, The Desert Sun is not a mom-and-pop newspaper. It’s a very-much-for-profit property of Gannett — the massive media corporation that also owns USA Today (sorry, we’re not capitalizing “TODAY”). Gannett has everything you’d expect from a huge company, including golden parachutes for executives and untimely layoffs for employees when the profit margins get too thin.
And did I mention that they kinda buried the lede? In more relevant news today, shareholders of Gannett and fellow behemoth Media Investment Group agreed to a historic merger. While anticipated, this is actually significant and will have big and lasting ramifications.
One sure-fire, take it to Vegas result of the Gannett/MIG merger is layoffs — lots of them. It’s one of the main reasons that the newsroom at Gannett’s flagship paper, the Arizona Republic, recently voted to form a union (or in this case, a guild) against the strenuous objection of its leadership. Like Sarah Conner, they knew what was coming — and that the loss of jobs would follow.
“[The merger] gives us a much broader platform on which to build our digital businesses and to help each of these local markets to become engines of growth for us from a digital perspective,” so says Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert.
Now, I’m not fluent in “corporate-speak.” But that statement sounds eerily similar to the Starbucks language referenced in The Desert Sun’s editorial. Maybe there’s common grounds after all.