Your Call is Very . . .

Messages that we should, by now, be sick of: “Your call is very important” and “In an effort to better align our resources with our mission . . .”

The first is doubtless familiar to all who have ever used a telephone.

The second is intended for recipients who thought they had one thing but are being given another.

Some time ago, the president of an art museum wrote its members claiming, “We listen to you!” Then, sober reason settled exclamatory prose. “Responding to member demand,” he wrote, the museum was increasing its membership costs and diminishing its membership benefits.

Although I’m pretty sure I never demanded to pay more in order to get less, in our polite world where euphemism is treated as genuine and authentic it’s difficult to argue. (Except here, in a Blog, the land of whining.)

And so it came to pass that the venerable Columbia Journalism Review, to which I’ve subscribed (and read) faithfully for more than 35 years, announced in postcard form recently: “we have decided to significantly boost our investment in CJR’s digital operations, while shifting the print schedule from bimonthly to two special issues per year.”

I’ll bet those issues will be special.

Especially since I just sent in my check for renewal. Glad I didn’t pay the three-year renewal option.

Coincidentally, if there is such a thing, I just finished reading Brian Gorman’s Crash to Paywall: Canadian Newspapers and the Great Disruption (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015). Journalistic in style, the interview-packed book describes the newspaper industry’s self-destruction beginning in the third quarter of the 20th century.

Separately, a colleague who is also a former journalist, describes the newspaper industry’s managerial and strategic ingenuity thus: They stop shooting themselves in the foot only long enough to reload.

The CJR notice goes on to suggest “rich” benefits to “devoted supporters” such as myself. “Loyal subscribers” (code for: “bozos who’ve already paid”) can expect in a few weeks to learn about “special benefits and costs of membership.”

CJR readers have seen this day coming. A recent issue, for instance, was wholly comprised of work produced by Columbia’s graduate-level journalism students.

Nice try.

Who goes to the hospital expecting to visit healthy people?

Before that, someone thought it a good idea for a magazine intended as a critical assessment of contemporary journalism to run a column (and photo) about saloons favored by the fourth estate.

And, in an earlier Blog, I bemoaned the absence of advertising in CJR. Imagine, a reader who complains there are too few ads.

Only in golf is two is better than six.

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