A quiz on the decline of newspapers
July 8th 2005
To understand why newspapers are losing readers and credibility,
please answer the following questions.
1. Which of the following two newspaper stories do you think would
be more interesting and sell more newspapers?
a) A 75 column-inch story about how a technical change to a city's
minority contracting program (i.e., affirmative action and
set-asides) has concerned some racial groups.
b) A 75 column-inch story about how the program institutionalizes
racial discrimination and is based on double standards, a
statistical sleight of hand, legal mumbo jumbo, and a consultant's
study of questionable validity.
2. Which of the following stories would you prefer to read?
a) A story that simply parrots what has been said about minority contracting
by a city spokesperson, self-serving racial groups, and a self-serving
b) A story that tries to achieve balance by presenting opposing views.
3. Which of the following types of journalism would you prefer?
a) Journalism that mirrors the formula that virtually every big-city daily
uses to cover race and other issues.
b) Journalism that breaks from the herd, puts a new light on issues,
educates readers, and challenges conventional thinking.
If you're not a journalist, you probably selected "b" for each of the
foregoing questions. If you're a reporter or editor, you undoubtedly
The different answers explain why newspapers are losing readers and
To take an example, the July 7, 2005 edition of the Arizona Republic
published a 75 column-inch story in the business section on a change in the
City of Phoenix's minority contracting program. It accepted what a city
spokesperson said, it missed the real story, and it followed the standard
The real story is this: The way that the government defines "minority,"
"disadvantaged" and "Hispanic" is a lot of hokum. For example, Hispanics
are counted as minorities, although there are more Hispanics than other
racial/ethnic groups that are not counted as minorities. Of equal hokum is
the assumption that because someone has a Spanish surname, the individual is
economically disadvantaged, the victim of discrimination and of the same
race and nationality as all other Hispanics.
The fact is, some Hispanics are rich, some are poor, some engage in racism,
some are victims of racism, some are descendants of Spanish aristocracy,
some are white, some are black, some are Native American, some are of mixed
race, some are from Cuba, some are from Puerto Rico, some are from Mexico,
some are from Spain, and some are from other countries. To lump all of
these diverse people together is the antithesis of diversity, but,
ironically, the lumping is done in the name of diversity.
Newspapers insult readers' intelligence by going along with this government
charade. And readers who have their intelligence insulted will get their
news and information from sources that don't insult their intelligence.
Some readers like me want to see newspapers succeed, because we believe that
newspapers can play a valuable role in society, especially in being a
government watchdog. When we get our intelligence insulted, we write
e-mails to reporters and editors, in the hope that they will stop adhering
to the formula and being a government lapdog. For example, I sent the
following e-mail to the reporter who wrote the Arizona Republic story on
Phoenix's minority contracting program. Her response is printed below my
Craig J. Cantoni
Mr. Cantoni is an
author, columnist and founder of Honest Americans Against Legal Theft (www.haalt.org).
His new book, Breaking from the Herd: Political Essays for
Independent Thinkers by a Maverick Columnist, can be purchased for
$18.95 at retail or $10 from him. He can be reached at