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I want some of what Chris Jennewein is smoking

June 16, 2009 - 9:34 pm

Wasn’t it the noted 1980s-era American philosopher Huey Lewis who said, “I want a new drug”?

I want one, too. I want one that will numb the daily anguish that accompanies the ongoing struggle to do full-time journalism amid flagging advertising revenue.

Also, one that will make Demetri Martin funnier.

Perhaps my quest for the Holy Grail of Mood-Altering Substances has ended. It looks like Chris Jennewein, president of the start-up online news site San Diego News Network, has found it.

This morning on KPBS’ These Days radio show, Jennewein ended yet another segment on the future of journalism (yawn) with this happy-go-goofy send-off:

“I think it’s a wonderful time to be in journalism and to be trying out new ideas.”

Damn, dude, whatever you’re on, cut me a line, drop me a dose or pack me a bowl. Whether I have to smoke it, snort it, shoot it, eat it, drink it, or shove it up my butt—I don’t care, I want some.

Maybe it’ll make me see a “60” when I look at the page count of this week’s CityBeat, instead of “40.” Maybe it could make the folks over at the Reader, who just a few years ago were filling 220 pages a week, not see the “144” at the end of their paper. Maybe it would make 192 Union-Tribune employees think they’re actually not losing their jobs. Maybe it would make the folks who used to put out CityBeat‘s sister paper in L.A. think they still have a paper. Maybe it would make people at some local TV stations think they’re not actually sharing camera operators. Maybe it’ll make freelance reporters all over San Diego think their story-pitch e-mails are actually being returned. Maybe it would make the people behind The Media Is Dying Twitter account think what they actually do all day every day is post tweets about thriving media organizations (I used to follow The Media Is Dying, which boasts more than 19,000 followers, but its depressing output detailing firings, layoffs, shuttering and downsizing was cluttering up my home page).

What’s that you say? I’m mostly talking about “old” journalism and not the glorious Xanadu that is online journalism? Right.

You might have seen Eric Wolff’s recent story in CityBeat about Jennewein’s own operation—it was called “Shrinkage: San Diego News Network is losing staff and dialing back its mission.” I just checked—it has seven advertisers: Two restaurants, two theater companies, a travel agency, a law firm and a mortgage company.


I have a hunch—just a hunch—that some of SDNN’s employees are simply getting whatever coin they can out of that Brinks truck before it careens off the cliff.

Not that I’m hoping for that, mind you. I hope I’m wrong and the economy turns around and—somehow—enough advertisers (and donors, in the case of our nonprofit brethren and sistren) are able to sustain all of us across this ever-broadening (and shallowing) media landscape. I want my pages back, and I want all of us to thrive.

OK, maybe everyone but the Reader. [Wink]

But, ye gads, man, to say it’s a wonderful time to be alive and doing journalism? That’s just embarrassing.

Not that Jennewein minds, all hopped up the way he is.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 18, 2009 - 12:12 pm 12:12 pm

    Pass it over to me, my friend! Well said.

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