By: Joan E. Battey

The more time goes on, the more old-fashioned shared-wisdom of earlier maxims applies everywhere. Earlier generations had succinct advice for almost every situation. Maxims were "common knowledge" -- i.e. understood by everyone. They didn't need seminars and semesters and special meetings to explain and absorb meanings of words and phrases.

The shared maxims "cut to the chase" -- like the exciting near-end of early, technically-rudimentary movies. The chase was the part where the good guys suddenly appear, and with mounting suspense, and astounding spurts of effort, save damsesl in distress, rescue people from disaster, and ensure happy endings. Not to mention, repeat audiences for next week's new "cliff-hanger." Note how that phrase found a cultural niche in descriptive phrases still in use today.

The "death of common sense" is still often used to explain disasters. The "common" as in "common knowledge" and the "sense" as in the "inner understanding" may be the "chase" we need to "cut to" in a hurry today. Two news items caught my eye within a very short time-frame skimming news today. Both seem to exhibit the same basic nugget of cause/effect. Both had the theme of how difficult it is to put out news and how people should be paying both more attention to THEM as prime provider, and THEM as more deserving of getting their money than any other "news providers." The lack of "common sense" is sure to provide both news outlets lots of inspiration for trying to sing their separate dirges of having ungrateful customers. Both exhibited a tight grip on their perception of deserving help, simply for "being there," not for doing superb jobs of ...."just doing their jobs."

The "common sense" lament was ignored by both , but the increased income "need" was shared by both. One had built its success on serving a somewhat specialized on- line audience, though soon including some other topics, and adding to its base. It is now speaking to concerned, somewhat segmented audiences; but clinging to promising to be "The One" if people will listen to and support them even more. . .

The other, is among many with the same unfortunate blind spots. They are all now advocating that because profit and audience numbers are dropping, everyone should cushion their losses for them. They should charge everyone more: --More, for both those who paid all along, and those who were lured to free on-line when print wasn't what they used to willingly pay for. First they lured people away from hold-in-hand papers, by putting much of it free on line. At the same time they diluted much of what had kept loyal customers buying hold-in-hand copies for literally centuries, under one masthead or another. Now the print bottom line is dropping fast, concurrently with a shift in what is in it. Who orchestrated that "problem"?

Ah, the death of common sense. To read about how bad things are for the profit margin of large Fourth Estate behemoths, you must now pay to find out what you stopped buying because it wasn't what it used to be, and also had a visible slant not attractive to all receiving it.

In "olden times" -- like even a couple or three decades ago -- if people didn't subscribe to publications whose contents didn't fit their needs or interests, there were other outlets they could choose instead. The free enterprise system allowed competition, based on ability to provide what "customers" want. Sales were determined by the product and the satisfied customer base. It was the American Way, the customer was king, so to speak. Smaller publications, however, need ad revenues to support the news that people want from them. Catch 22 in many ways, yet not understood as well as it should have been...

Now politics is not the only orchestrated roadmap to the future. Those preferring varieties of interests are steadily being deprived of news of them, one by one. Those who have primary interests now in the ascendancy and spotlighted, are already in the beam of those wanting to change the parameters and access of those, as well.

When major publications of all kinds are jumping on the bandwagon of telling us that if we want any news, we have to pay for it. "It" however, seems to change steadily, as "we" get what "they" think we need to get. "It" is not the same in the eye of the provider and the eye of those who soon get "it" as determined by the soon-dominant provider of "it."

Whatever happened to "being worthy of your hire," profit depending on satisfied customers, true free-market public squares? What will happen to small niche marketers, AND satisfied customers of small niche marketers of every kind? Let's hope the answer to that doesn't come too late.

"Published originally at : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Joan E. Battey is a freelance political writer from Apalachin, NY. Her love of logical dot connecting and writing developed over many years of  typesetting and proof reading in small daily newspapers; ad agency and manufacturing office secretarial work, and volunteer work in libraries, animal welfare, political campaigns, and networks of people keeping abreast of the steady "reforms" in education. She is a regular columnist for Ether Zone.

Joan E. Battey can be reached at:

Published in the November 4, 2012 issue of  Ether Zone.
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