Today's Top Stories

The future may be online, but many will slip through the net

There's an awful doubt beginning to infect the media scene as autumn comes. It takes the most commonplace assumption of newspaper life and hangs a great question mark on it. We're constantly told that newspapers as we know them are in a period of transition, moving to become purely digital papers on the web, on tablets, on mobiles, on gadgets as yet uninvented. There is light at the end of a long tunnel of uncertainty, a vital transition. Yet suppose, just suppose, that there's not.

Catholic bishops, in Labor Day statement, strongly back unions

Saying the nation’s economy is failing workers, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is strongly backing unions and the right to organize as one way to help workers out of the economic turmoil. The pro-union language, drawing on 120 years of Catholic social teaching, is a large segment of the bishops’ 6-page 3,400-word Labor Day message. But like other pro-worker statements from the bishops, it can be disregarded by Catholic laypeople -- or even by fellow bishops.

New Zealand Press Association to close

New Zealand's national news agency is to close this week, marking the end of a 132-year-old institution that has helped shape the identity of the country. The New Zealand Press Association is a victim of changing technology and media ownership. Two Australian media empires have bought up most of New Zealand's newspapers, and the papers in each chain share stories with each other, reducing their need for an external news provider.

This Labor Day We Need Protest Marches Rather than Parades

Labor Day is traditionally a time for picnics and parades. But this year is no picnic for American workers, and a protest march would be more appropriate than a parade. All told, it’s been the worst decade for American workers in a century, but big American corporations are making more money, and creating more jobs, outside the United States than in it. And CEO pay, meanwhile, has soared.

Capitalism's New Era

Since illusions of an economic recovery have now been shattered, it's up to working people to demand that their labor unions and community groups unite to tax the rich and corporations in order to finance a massive jobs program. Fortunately, the AFL-CIO is organizing actions for the first week of October to demand jobs and oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Many within the labor movement are calling for massive demonstrations across the country for October 1.

Bernanke Speech Was Only a Minor Footnote to Enduring Crisis

The Fed has evidently decided not to change course, despite those policies' poor performance since the crisis hit in 2007. "Trickle-down" is indeed the right name for this program: shovel help to the financial top of the economic pyramid and hope it trickles some of its loot down to the mass of businesses and individuals. The immense cash hoards now accumulating in U.S. banks and corporations stand as strong testimony -- alongside so much other evidence -- that "trickle down" economics is failing yet again.

Twilight of the Media Critics

With the news this week that the already-shrunken world of media reporting is losing its two grandest figures -- Jim Romenesko and Jack Shafer -- the survivors are few and far between. There used to be media critics at damn near every big newspaper in America! No mas. Why the decline of this "proud" field? Well, for one thing, like politics, the media is a topic on which every asshole has an opinion, and those opinions are now more easily distributed than ever.

Slate Lays Off Staff. Does Its Model Still Make Sense?

You don’t have to be an ink-and-paper newspaper to be a dinosaur. Slate, one of the original internet-only magazines, has laid off four journalists. But despite its internet pedigree, a comparison with newspapers is apt. With an editorial staff of 40, Slate is a fraction the size of a large metro daily but it’s built on the same model: a general-interest publication that tries to hit all the news people are interested in every day.