Tuesday, March 15, 2011

‘The Ostrich’ watch – are they up to their necks in quicksand?

Is it an endangered species, a dinosaur of our times?

There are plenty of ostriches (with a small o) living and propagating among us.  But there is only one we know as The Ostrich, and we’re verklempt over the possibility that it could be the last of its breed.

Given our fierce devotion to principled journalism, and our dogged pursuit of the facts for our readers, we have a keen interest in the well-being of our colleagues at The Ostrich.  You know this because we’ve written frequently about them over the months and years of our ascendance into the upper echelons of local news coverage.

We’ve reported more than once on their tax delinquencies, specifically their failure to pay their fair share to our beloved community, callously putting “vital” community services and the futures of “the children” at risk.

Sadly, it appears they have not remedied things.  Reports are their accounts are still in arrears, so fines and interest on their owed amounts must be accumulating, making resolution even harder.  If they’re not careful, they could find themselves upside down or sideways on their balance sheet.

What’s next?  Employee paychecks bouncing?  Health-care coverage  premiums not being paid?  Let’s hope not.  We all know the Nivens would be petrified by such a possibility, even though they’re no longer engaged.  Still, they’ve got to feel deep concern for those they once thought of as family.

That aside, the sixth sense for a hidden story we’ve developed since founding Side tells us that all is not well at The Ostrich.  Our instincts have kicked in, and our hunch is that things are getting worse, not better.  The possibilities just mentioned could be all too real.

Sensing that our colleagues might need our support, but be too proud to ask for it, we gathered Side staff together to brainstorm ideas that could help The Ostrich turn things around.  Or, at least, pull their heads out of the sand.

Here’s what came of our attempts to ‘think outside the hole.’

  • Emulate the New York Times, a paragon of journalistic success in the modern era.  Position Paul Krugman, the Napoleonic economic guru, as a fiscal savant.  Feature Nicholas Kristof, Bob Herbert, and Amy Goodman as enlightened advocates of the ever bigger government approach to a prosperous future for all.
  • Stage Doug Rooks as an all-knowing, avuncular observer of Maine politics; allow him carte blanche in describing the capabilities and intentions of all elected officials right of Jimmy Carter.
  • Run multi-installment editorials attacking the plans of Maine’s new Governor, while completely ignoring the fiscal realities of state circumstances (and their own, obviously!).
  • Print letters from favored ideologues as often as they submit them, and without challenging content and sources.
  • Publish editorials ghosted by MECEP, MMA, and other big government advocates without compunction, maintaining your reputation as good little soldiers of the left.
  • Reduce real news content, and apply selective coverage as needed to shape the remainder.  Ignore embarrassing circumstances surrounding the MRRA, Oxford Aviation, and the political wheeler dealers involved: Stan the Minority Man Gerzofsky, Johnny Protocols Richardson, etc.
  • Take direction from the local movers and shakers to keep your pages clean and properly aligned with the natural order of the community cosmos.
  • Run an item from a conservative every month or two to create the illusion of even handedness.
  • Lie directly to subscribers and frequent contributors about editorial vigilance.
  • Change your archive function from years deep to two weeks deep to minimize the chances of leaving embarrassing evidentiary trails.
  • Swallow whole anything that comes out of the school department.  Ignore teachers’ contracts and other relevant factual data.
  • Allow editors to submit items written by others for award consideration under their names, and then indulge their bragging about winning the award.
  • Run consecutive assessments of republican/conservative officials, but virtually ignore the politics of the favored ruling class: Richardson, Gerzofsky, Priest, and their fellow travelers.
  • Adopt the methods of…….

And at just that moment, a blinding flash of the obvious came upon us.  We were coming up with all the things The Ostrich has been doing for years!  Oh no!  Were we being haunted by the demons of dying journalism? 

A quick check around the table showed everyone’s face still pointed forward, no-one hurling green chunks, or any other signs of irreversible possession.  We immediately went into the emergency drill we had practiced so many times before.

We broke the glass in the safety locker door, grabbed the “No More Dinosaurs” tee-shirts and hard-hats, and put them on as our last line of personal defense.

Relieved that we had turned things around, we went back to work.

Another bullet dodged, as it were.  Perhaps we could turn this into a candidate for an annual award, we thought. 

We’ll have to think about that.  Meanwhile, we’ll look into having No More Dinosaurs pins made up for our loyal readers.  At $5 each, they could help us pay our fair share responsibly.

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