I was infinitely disappointed to see Mark Zieman use the occasion of Christmas to brazenly cheerlead for his dead tree media employer.
Of course end of the year holidays call for a bit of reflection but Zieman’s over-the-top, self-important screed seemed disingenuous.
While no one can argue that The Star hasn’t been an important part in this town’s history, Zieman didn’t really address the modern day complaint of bias and a lack of community interaction with the corporate media source.
For instance, there was no word of Zieman’s allegedly drunken wife Rhonda driving on local roads amid all his tales of heroic star muckraking over the years.
It gets worse.
And the way the Zieman transitions from the lead topic of charity to what seems like an annual report for stockholders is rather shameless. For a bit of corporate promotion disguised as a news column, the charity reference might have been holiday appropriate but didn’t really have anything to do with the bulk of his message.
This is an ongoing debate that I have with newspaper journalists. They incorrectly view their job as a public service while picking up a fat corporate paycheck and basically working to uphold the status quo. I’m sure everybody likes to think they’re doing the world a favor by the mere virtue of their existence but in the end The Star is just another company owned by a conglomerate and producing content in order to deliver advertising.
The myth of the 4th estate has been destroyed by academics and critics much smarter than this humble blogger.
Zieman’s mischaracterization of his critics also offers a glimpse of his elitist worldview. He notes: “Bloggers and pundits advocate boycotting or even shutting down media companies they don’t agree with.”
This vague reference really doesn’t reflect much of the local criticism received by The Star. However, the bunker mentality is clear. A more accurate depiction of Star criticism would be to note that bloggers simply want The Star to engage in an open discourse with their audience instead of hiding behind their history, heavily filtered comment section and an ivory tower that would make any tenured college professor green with envy.
For my part, I enjoy trashing The Star more than anything because in the end I realize that the free market will ultimately decide the efficacy of delivering dead tree and days old content to the doorsteps of local residents.
After all is said and done, there’s nothing left to say or do when readers and advertisers start voting with their wallets.
Still, the most important part of my Star criticism is a bit of simple documentation of the publisher’s screed. Zieman might have made Santa cry by using this holiday for corporate promotion but again THE USERS always have the final say. Take a look at reader reaction to this pitch for The Star’s relevance in the digital age:
Nothing. Zip. Ziltch. Nada.
Not even a single Facebook "like" that even I earn once in a while. Even worse, The Star‘s comments are (typically) closed so any feedback, criticism or rebuttal has been silenced on the site of the so-called “paper-of-record” now and forevermore.
More than anything else, this small pesky fact points out yet another reason that The Star cheerleading for itself remains an arrogant pastime as an ever-decreasing number of workers and managers continue closing their eyes, ears and comment section to avoid facing this reality.