Saturday, February 28, 2009

NOW I'm scared.

Newspapers are dying. They don't seem to be essential to commerce, so they are being allowed to die. And I think, I believe, they are essential to our freedom.

Sound bites don't give the big picture. National news isn't invested in regions, states, or communities and is more easy to control than individual press. Newspapers cover both sides of local issues, in more detail than any other medium. A newspaper uncovered Watergate. Because of their scope, newspapers have uncovered more corruption than any other medium. They cover the special interest groups, but they also give coverage to the other sides.

No, they aren't perfect. Most of the population doesn't trust journalists, or see much use for them. In a failing economy, commerce spends very few advertising dollars on a medium with a shrinking number of subscribers.

We've had newspapers in America longer than we have had the United States. If they die,I really can't identify any viable new source for information in the wings. We have so much information on the Web, so little of it vetted and true.

In my lifetime, I never expected the extinction of print journalism in this country.

It is not dead yet, and perhaps it will survive. The economy will improve, and the economics of newspapers may change to thrive in this changing world.

Some complicated changes are coming up. I want my information from a source that gives one side-blah, blah, blah, and then says "on the other hand", blah, blah, blah, and gives the second or third view.

I learned many years ago that we can never get to the certain truth of anything, but only an approximation.But don't censor my access to the information I need to decide what the truth is. I don't want the liberal facts or the conservative facts. Give me all of 'em, and let me sort it out without filtering through political party propaganda.

That's why I believe we need newspapers to keep our speech, our actions, our movements, and our personal decisions as free as possible.

Newspapers are one of our guardians of all that freedom. Without them, where is our public forum? Television can take only a few stories a day--and a minute is a long time to give to them. Where is our recourse? To whom do we speak?

Yes, my view is slanted because I was a print journalist many years ago. I wrote about a lot of people, met some movers and shakers and interviewed them.But overall, overall, when I remember those years and think of the stories I wrote, it is the average folk I remember most vividly, the "little guys" who were also important and had gifts to give society.

If the newspapers are gone, who will speak for them? Where will their voices be heard? To whom do we bring our causes? the faces that inspire us to contribute, to pull together, to build? Too many will not be seen, not be heard, become virtually invisible, powerless, in our communities.

And that will not be good for democracy.

1 comment:

J.R.Shirley said...

I would like to believe the proliferation of e-news, blogs and what-have-you mean that communication is more widespread than ever before possible.