Monday, May 30, 2005

The Death Spiral of the New York Times

Showing bad timing as well as bad judgment, the New York Times displays its usual lack of class by publishing an anti-military editorial proclaiming "The Death Spiral of the Volunteer Army" on this Memorial Day weekend.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld likes to talk about transforming America's military. But the main transformation he may leave behind is a catastrophic falloff in recruitment for the country's vital ground fighting forces: the Army and the Marine Corps. The recruitment chain that has given the United States highly qualified, highly skilled and highly motivated ground forces for the three decades since the government abandoned the draft has started to break down.

This is astonishing, even allowing for the administration's failure to prepare Americans honestly for how long and difficult the occupation of Iraq would be. There are over 60 million American men and women between 18 and 35, the age group sought by Army recruiters. Getting the 80,000 or so new volunteers the Army needs to enlist each year ought not to be such a daunting challenge. There are obvious attractions to joining the world's most powerful, prestigious and best-equipped ground fighting forces, and in so doing qualifying for valuable benefits like college tuition aid.
Notice that the editorial fails to mention that the economy is chugging right along and unemployment is down. Just this past week, the US Commerce Department revised first quarter 2005 GDP growth upward to 3.5 percent. What this means is the job growth is strong and people are choosing to work in the civilian sector. When this happens, fewer people are going to join the military, of course. But don't expect the Times to mention any good news in the context of military recruiting.

On the other hand, the New York Times appears to be experiencing its own Death Spiral as advertising sales slump and circulation collapses. With costs rising and benefits for retirees looming larger, it seems to me that the Times has the same kinds of problems as the Army and Marine Corps they have just maligned. Recently, the Times announced that nearly 200 jobs would be cut, amounting to 1.5% of its workforce. In addition, they have an ethics problem they have not addressed, an image problem that is getting worse, a management team with it's head up its ass and an elite ownership out of touch with the workers and the readers.

In yet another display of arrogance, the Times thinks it can boost its revenue by charging its readers $50 a year to view the editorial crap from the likes of Friedman, Kristof and Krugman. Which means that I will soon be turning my attention to the editorial rants coming from the free sections of the paper known as Page One.


At 11:09 PM, Blogger Robert Farley said...

Odd. Everyone on the left has had precisely the same reaction; why pay to read Tierney and Brooks? I don't know what the NYT is thinkin.


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