There was an unusual happening in our editorial / cartoon process recently. In discussions with FCW Editor John Monroe, it was decided that an editorial would be aimed at encouraging the incoming administration to name qualified, experienced people to agency CIO positions, with it all topped off by the naming of a federal CTO, rather than filling such positions in order to pay off political debts. I created the cartoon below with this topic in mind.
A funny thing happened on the way to the printing presses. The Obama transition team said they would name people with technological and management experience, leaving the editorial writer in a quandary. This being high-level journalism, he was quickly able to get his dander up (or his pom poms out, I haven't seen the editorial yet) about some other subject. Not having time to draw another cartoon, I was left to consider this predicament.
What if one of the changes that had been long promised by the winning campaign includes agreeing with every editorial, column and blog written, and following their suggestions? This could be an ingenious plot to disarm all of these writers. "My, what a good idea. Let's do just what you suggest, Mr. Will." At press conferences the new Press Secretary could merely pull out that day's Post and ask everyone to refer to the op-ed page. When questioned on specifics in Thomas Friedman's latest policy, he could simply reply, "Let's see what everyone at Huffington has to say about it."
For a while, this would leave the fourth estate floating aimlessly about. They would make do by ramping up their television and music reviews, maybe adding some readers' photo-shopped pet photo submissions or something, but sooner or later they would start to fight back. Some would start to purposely write conflicting editorials -- in favor of bailing out the newspaper industry one day, against it the next, for example -- while the leading opinionators would get bolder, and start to suggest even wilder policies. A few thoughts off the top of my head:
- Similar to driving on the same side of the road, all cell phone users must use the same ear when walking in the same direction on the sidewalk.
- Let's trade Alaska to Canada in exchange for Toronto.
- California should consider renaming itself with an unpronounceable symbol, a la Prince.
- Federal Computer Week should be named the official technology publication of the USA and Toronto.
- Encourage a nationwide drive to legalize same-IQ marriages.
The resulting chaos would certainly be unnerving, resulting in either citizens starting -- okay, continuing -- to ignore the media completely, or increasing distrust of this administration. Not wishing for either, I would just hope for the incoming administration to stop making decisions so quickly, allowing us dinosaurs in the print media a few remaining moments of feeling ahead of the curve.
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