Trading places

Once upon a time, long ago, there was a country where factories hummed, pipelines gurgled, and newspapers flourished. Yes, my son, newspapers flourished, it was that long ago. But then something called the Internet arrived. Everyone wanted to play Candy Crush and take selfies. No one wanted to read exclusives anymore. Why not just look at an aggregator that steals stories from hither and from yon?

Poster Boy and Thor Moon were two among the downtrodden in the business despite having dozens of different outlets. Trouble was, most titles were doing poorly. Readership, ads, everything had gone blooey. So Poster Boy and Thor Moon came up with a brilliant idea. Why doesn’t each of us give some of our longest-suffering to the other? Maybe a competitor can do what we can’t and bring back readers by the throng.

So each designated a few cities they were prepared to cede and traded them to the other guy. Once each had their competitor’s castoffs, they looked at the books and said, “Booga, booga, these are worse than the ones we gave away. Let’s close them down. We’ve got neither history nor heartstrings attached.” And so it was that many communities across the land suddenly had fewer choices than before, a couple of hundred souls lost their jobs and no one seemed to care.

Except for the Competence Bureau, who decided to look into the deal because, well, it seemed odd, given how they both did the same thing with some of the other guy’s giveaways. But the Competence Bureau was stuck; all they had was Poster Boy and Thor Moon saying there was no grand plan. And why shouldn’t they be believed? After all, they’re in the news business, aren’t they? They must know fake from fact.

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