For a few days, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune told us everything we need to know about its contempt for reporters and cynicism about journalism.
This insight came in the form of a tweet on @troncCareers, the official job-recruiting Twitter account of tronc, the former Tribune Publishing Company now under the command of tech entrepreneur Michael Ferro.
Just after 3 p.m. last Friday, @troncCareers posted a tweet with a Dilbert cartoon mocking the idea of hiring reporters for an Internet news business. “Dogbert understands the future of #media & technology platforms,” the tweet said. “However, Grandpa — I mean Dilbert — uhh . . . Doesn’t.”
The message couldn’t have been clearer: Who needs to employ real journalists when you can simply harvest the work of others? Anyone who suggests otherwise should get with the program, grandpa.
This is not at all surprising. In Ferro’s view, the future of journalism will be defined by “artificial intelligence and machine learning.” Reporters will become expendable when technology can “harness the power of our local journalism, feed it into a funnel, and then optimize it so that we reach the biggest global audience possible,” as his chief digital officer famously explained.
(Apparently even lower than reporters, in Ferro’s estimation, are bloggers. “Journalism is important to save right now; it’s being taken over just like the weird politicians,” he said. “Bloggers — that’s not journalism.”)
As politico.com blogger Natasha Korecki reported Wednesday, the Dilbert tweet clearly rankled those working in Tribune Tower and in the business.
At 2:17 p.m. Tuesday it was deleted from the @troncCareers account and the following message was posted: “For that recent post, we apologize. It was inappropriate and has therefore been removed.”