Times are tough. And in this disadvantageous economic climate, even fake news outlets are feeling budgetary constraints. Consider the case of Puget Sound's Most Spectacular Newspaper, The Naked Loon.
Exactly a year ago, Timothy Ellis started the venture. With the pluck and determination of a modern Horatio Alger, the Kenmore resident crafted a local online media empire that left no sacred cow un-barbecued, lampooning poor and powerful alike. The Loon had drawn the attention of powerful media outlets as well, being featured by KOMO 4 News, The Seattle Times and Sound Politics.Unfortunately, the heady days of fame, fast cars, cocktail parties and getting the Mayor of Kenmore to take an official stance against a Loon story are slowly fading, replaced by the steady grind of churning out pieces mocking yet another Barack Obama gaffe or the recession.
Catching up with Ellis, he cold-heartedly stated that he had been neglecting The Loon, violating the first rule journalism ethics by adding that he was trying to "make money". The only profit he had been receiving from The Loon was "sweet satisfaction", which apparently is not a medium of exchange one can use for car payments, the mortgage or phone bills.
There have been rumblings around the newsroom that many of the senior Loon reporters and columnists could be offered buyout packages as early as next week. More telling, news bureaus in Skamania and Humptulips appear to have closed down.
None of the staffers could be officially quoted on the record. However one writer bemoaned the fact that she was not a member of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild and asked exactly what does "at-will employment" mean.
Media experts have also pointed out an ever growing and competitive array of online newspapers that are breaking into the market. A year ago, Seattle was only a two-online newspaper town what with The Loon and David Brewster's "Crosscut". That niche has gotten even more crowded with the creation of another news aggregator site called SeattlePI.com, whose focus is writing stories that are even more outlandish and unbelievable than those penned by Loon and Crosscut.
However, analysts say there are innovative ideas that The Naked Loon could use to get through the Worst Recession Since the Great Depression.
There is the Frank Blethen business model of providing less local content, while charging the reader money for something they can get for free online.
A good pair of bolt cutters can be had at Ace Hardware for around $30 bucks. There's money to be made selling maverick Seattle P-I newspaper boxes to college students looking for an ironic dorm decoration.
And finally you can put the "Naked" back in the Naked Loon by hiring the aforesaid college students, and perhaps some former P-I staffers, desperate to do anything, anything for a buck.