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Not that our caution about contentiousness is entirely misplaced. There is certainly no lack of it in the brutally competitive workday worlds of our major companies. And our national political life has become way too angry, spoiling the fun of debate. “Our spirits are corroded by living in an atmosphere of unrelenting contention — an argument culture," writes Deborah Tannen in "The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue" (1998). Modern media suffers from a growing aversion to more screeds and white-hot harangues, just as modern media economics seems to require more heat than light.
The saddest aspect of these recent media acquisitions is that they are acts of "harvesting." The temptation, in an economic sector where expansion no longer seems likely to be rewarded with good profits, is to buy properties at low prices, strip them of costs (older staffers, high-mindedness, topic-areas with few advertisers) and harvest the revenues that remain. At the end, the corpse is discarded.
It's the depressing coda in the newspaper world, reminiscent of another Northwest specialty of absentee ownership in our forests, mines, grasslands and fisheries: cut and run.
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