Why the Internet isn't friendly to newspapers

For many years, I always thought that newspapers would successfully make the transition from a paper product to the Internet -- though the process would be painful. I'm not so sure anymore. Here's why.

The majority of Internet readers aren't looking for a comprehensive news report that is incredibly expensive to produce. Need evidence? Just look at the top-viewed stories on two different Southern California newspaper sites. At this moment, the top stories on latimes.com are these:

The majority of the stories are commentaries on the news or crime briefs. The top-viewed stories don't reflect the work of 600-plus journalists busting their asses around the world. That's just not valued by Internet readers. Sad, but true. Okay, now take a looked at the Orange County Register's top-viewed stories:

Okay, what do we have? A dog photo contest. The Lakers. A weather story. And a crime story.

Both The Times and Register devote tremendous resources to provide readers with in-depth reporting from around California, Southern California and the world. But do today's readers care? I would argue that they would rather read commentary (the reason why the Huffington Post has been so successful) and celebrity and crime news.

Compounding the problem is the fact that Internet advertising provides only a faction of the income as old-school print advertising revenue. So newspapers have to face two stubborn facts: the majority of readers don't want their in-depth, quality news coverage and (even if they did) advertising revenues won't support that kind of editorial heft.

Now we can argue what this means for our democracy or, more pointedly, to websites and bloggers when their free source of news dries up, but the facts remain. Readers and the business model won't support the expensive journalism newspaper operations produce.

In this case, it's two strikes and newspapers are out.

The hypocrisy of Bishop Soto

Mi amigo, Gustavo Arellano, wrote another insightful commentary about the Diocese of Orange and, in particular, one of its former rising stars, Bishop Jaime Soto (who now heads the diocese of Sacramento). Gustavo couldn't be more correct in his analysis.

Soto is one of the Catholic Church's rising stars because he's -- how to put this delicately? -- an ass-kisser. He delivers to his bosses what they want: silence on most of his sexually abusive brothers, a passionate defense of the fellow priest convicted of 46 counts of child molestation, and now a stinging rebuke for those who engaging in same-sex sex.

Among those commenting on Gustavo's post was Richard Sipe, a former monk who's an clergy sexual abuse expert and has long been ahead of the curve on the scandal. He writes:

You are absolutely right. Priests do not speak up about the abuse they know about. The reason: Most, I repeat most, have had or are having some kind of sexual contact, experience, relationship, or habit. They run the risk of exposing themselves, or in some cases superiors or bishops with whom they have had sex-play, experience, or a relationship. Even temporary involvement of priests in sexual relationships with other priests or sexual experimentation puts them in a fearful state. Celibacy is not a common or persistent practice among the clergy. Homosexual contact, and slips (or what the Vatican has labeled "transitional homosexuality") are so common—especially in seminaries and religious orders that many clergy who subsequently or eventually strive to establish a celibate practice are caught in the circle of secrecy that covers even sexual abuse of minors (often indulged by newly ordained priests with only a few victims) or by other priests who continue the practice. This is a "scarlet bond" of secrecy that is inculcated from the top down (Vatican) and preserved by bishops and superiors for fear of exposure; The system in which all clergy are caught demands cover up at any cost to save themselves (the Church) from scandal. Truth, honesty, transparency, accountability, and people (non-clerics) be damned. I am working on a study of the "genealogy of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic priesthood." Clergy are taught the dynamic of abuse and secrecy from their first days in training. And their teachers are often promoted to the ranks of bishop and superior.

Soto, bilingual and well-regarded with his superiors, is rumored to be in line to be the next archbishop of Los Angeles. Before he gains the post, this question should be answered: What prevented Soto for acting more courageously (or just with common decency) to protect child from being raped by priests in Orange County -- or at least to make sure his criminal brothers were punished? Does Soto, like so many priests, have a sexual "scandal" in his past (even masturbation is a scandal in the priesthood, not to mention relationships with fellow priests, parishioners or prostitutes)? I'd love for him -- and his fellow bishops -- to take a lie detector test to clear the air. (BTW, I'd be more empathic to a personal scandal; it would be more disgusting if he was just a career man who didn't want to rock the boat.)

Until then, it's really between the Lord and the career bishops. And if they truly believe in God, most should be on their knees begging for forgiveness and the courage to do the right thing.

Change of address

Hey, folks. I've decided to stop posting for the moment at Lobdell's OC. But you can find the full wisdom of William Lobdell here.