Thursday, December 18, 2008

I try not to (TOO LATE TONIGHT, YO) write the anguished, rash, apopleptic, repetitive and generally not quite well-enough informed rants about the (death-of-)journalism that inform an unfortunately large part of my feelings about that institution these days, and in particular about the cruelly slow death going on at my old paper, but my heart has been breaking in that area for a couple years now. Awful. This kinda shit--courtesy of the Reader's great Whet Moser--is one version of what I'm talkin about.

I do not understand now and have in fact never understood why: the endless back and forth. The positioning, the discussion, the idiotic masturbatory discussions about online presence and however it is that we are explaining whatever we need to explain about the nexus of newspapers and money these days. Surely we either need newspapers in this country or not, on whatever surface you read them, pixellated or printed.

Surely, we either make them or not. Support them or not. We tear them down because they don't have the profit margin of a can of soup or a kilo of ball bearings, but has that ever been what the fourth estate is for? Why...can't people who want to run newspapers run newspapers? Isn't a modest profit possible in this post-Craig'sList age? Laudable, even? Just fine? What am I missing?

Why, when everything needs an imprimatur, a source, the cachet of a Name behind it, the weight and assurance of a long publication history, or the experience to actually confirm or write or find or understand or navigate stories, are we getting rid of the institutions that can do it? I just don't get it. We may not need dead re-pulped trees you can hold in your hands to get all inky, but we need journalism more than ever. Actual, ruthlessly fact-checked reportage to navigate both the lack of information in some areas and the cancerous excess of speculative gossip in others.

Why when we need them more than ever are they being hunted into extinction? I never got it, on some level, never will. Some days it feels like we're standing in a muddy field in Roanoke starting all over again.

1 comment:

Demandra said...

I feel a sense of conspiracy theory paranoia here, but sometimes I think journalism is dying because it is so needed. Like it's all part of the neo-con madness, intent on world domination. All part of a big, nasty plan to control all nations, all forms of communication, all tools of power. Just call me Alex Jones.