The Oregonian’s Peter Bhatia wrote an exciting op-ed in the Sunday Oregonian. The 18,000-word spin piece is crammed with bullshit, defensiveness, overconfidence and pomposity, which I’ve highlighted (via translated excerpts) below.
“Quick background: I am Peter Bhatia. (It’s pronounced BAH-tee-uh.) I grew up in Pullman, Wash., and went to college at Stanford. I admit I am partial to schools that wear shades of red. I’ve worked at seven newspapers over the past 35 years, mainly in the Northwest and Northern California. It is an incredible honor to lead the talented staff of The Oregonian newsroom and to be part of Publisher Chris Anderson’s leadership team at this company, the oldest continuously operating business in the state. The Oregonian, if you didn’t know, is older than the state of Oregon.
Lest you doubt my sterling credentials, I am Stanford-educated (please turn to D1 to see a photocopy of my diploma). And, despite the fact that I have a pompous and irritating way of expressing myself, I — like you, peasant-reader — am a long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest. I hail from the hard-working, blue-collar town of Pullman, where I became immensely familiar with the prairie crickets and sister-fucking trailer trash who comprise the readership core of regional newspapers.
“Much has been written and said about the challenges facing newspapers in recent years, and there is no denying that both the horrible economy of the past few years and rapidly changing digital technology have been hard on our industry. But if you take nothing else from this column, please remember this: The Oregonian is not going away.
We’ve taken quite a PR hit in the last few days. Bob Caldwell ended up in the Stony Lonesome, and I shit-canned a journalist for contributing to George Costanza’s favorite wack-off rag. Make no mistake, though, this paper is still the Only Game in Town. Our readers are a captive audience, and they will always be a captive audience.
“Many want to write off The Oregonian. That would be a mistake, because we are committed to providing essential watchdog and investigative journalism on issues that matter to you, and at a level of journalistic quality that no other media outlet in the state can provide.
The Oregonian is an institution of beauty and truth. It is life, it is death…it is God. Naysayers who worship at the throne of ignorance and Robitussin will always try to drag us down. However, we Gods are made of stern stuff. We are nigh invulnerable.
“I would be the first to acknowledge we are less than perfect in our work. Newspapers have always been human institutions; mistakes get made. I grimace daily at missed opportunities and obvious mistakes.
Do you see this nose on my face? It’s not merely a nose for news. It’s a finely tuned, heavily sophisticated news-seeking apparatus. It consumes, digests and excretes news. Twenty four hours a day. The immensity of this task means that mistakes are unavoidable.
“…I wouldn’t trade our staff for anything. They are a smart, dedicated and determined group of journalists. Their work has made The Oregonian by far the dominant media outlet in the state, and with that, naturally, comes criticism of how we do our work. It’s only fair. But it’s also fair to point out that those who are our harshest critics rely on the good work of our staff for their talk-show topics, blog posts or general rants. I’m not sure what they’d do without us.
Blogs are written by insignificant piffle mongers. I crush them like roaches trampled underfoot. Bloggers would be lost without the inviting target that our gruff and ennobling wisdom provides.
“One of the byproducts of these digital times is there are more and more journalistic entrepreneurs starting websites and other local news ventures that go to topics our staff might not. We think that’s great. The more journalism the better, and we are looking forward to finding common ground with those new ventures. But more on that another time.
Competition weakens our stranglehold on the local news scene. I can assure you that I will step on the throat of any goddamn prairie cricket who attempts to steal our thunder.
Thank you for reading — this column and the newspaper’s work.
This trite, patronizing bit of lecturing is meant to placate a few important advertisers so that we do not lose their patronage. Having said that, let it be known that I have reached the pinnacle of human achievement. I am a news man at The Oregonian.