There is a fairly thoughtful article in The Nation that argues that if anything is worth saving in this country, the newspaper is. The article is well worth your time, if you have it, but I’ll give you a sample here, ‘cuz that’s what I do :)

Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States.

After years of neglecting signs of trouble, elite opinion-makers have begun in recent months to recognize that things have gone horribly awry. Journals ranging from Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The New Republic to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times concur on the diagnosis: newspapers, as we have known them, are disintegrating and are possibly on the verge of extinction. Time’s Walter Isaacson describes the situation as having “reached meltdown proportions” and concludes, “It is now possible to contemplate a time in the near future when major towns will no longer have a newspaper and when magazines and network news operations will employ no more than a handful of reporters.” A newspaper industry that still employs roughly 50,000 journalists–the vast majority of the remaining practitioners of the craft–is teetering on the brink

Blame has been laid first and foremost on the Internet, for luring away advertisers and readers, and on the economic meltdown, which has demolished revenues and hammered debt-laden media firms. But for all the ink spilled addressing the dire circumstance of the ink-stained wretch, the understanding of what we can do about the crisis has been woefully inadequate. Unless we rethink alternatives and reforms, the media will continue to flail until journalism is all but extinguished.

Let’s begin with the crisis. In a nutshell, media corporations, after running journalism into the ground, have determined that news gathering and reporting are not profit-making propositions. So they’re jumping ship. The country’s great regional dailies–the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer–are in bankruptcy. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News recently closed down, ending daily newspaper competition in that city. The owners of the San Francisco Chronicle, reportedly losing $1 million a week, are threatening to shutter the paper, leaving a major city without a major daily newspaper. Big dailies in Seattle (the Times), Chicago (the Sun-Times) and Newark (the Star-Ledger) are reportedly near the point of folding, and smaller dailies like the Baltimore Examiner have already closed. The 101-year-old Christian Science Monitor, in recent years an essential source of international news and analysis, is folding its daily print edition. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is scuttling its print edition and downsizing from a news staff of 165 to about twenty for its online-only incarnation. Whole newspaper chains–such as Lee Enterprises, the owner of large and medium-size publications that for decades have defined debates in Montana, Iowa and Wisconsin–are struggling as the value of stock shares falls below the price of a single daily paper. And the New York Times needed an emergency injection of hundreds of millions of dollars by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim in order to stay afloat.

Those are the headlines. Arguably uglier is the death-by-small-cuts of newspapers that are still functioning. Layoffs of reporters and closings of bureaus mean that even if newspapers survive, they have precious few resources for actually doing journalism. Job cuts during the first months of this year–300 at the Los Angeles Times, 205 at the Miami Herald, 156 at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 150 at the Kansas City Star, 128 at the Sacramento Bee, 100 at the Providence Journal, 100 at the Hartford Courant, ninety at the San Diego Union-Tribune, thirty at the Wall Street Journal and on and on–suggest that this year will see far more positions eliminated than in 2008, when almost 16,000 were lost. Even Doonesbury’s Rick Redfern has been laid off from his job at the Washington Post.

I agree with the author’s conclusions about what the loss of newspapers means for America, but I would have to say that the problem already exists; newspapers have been lost for years. The newspapers suffer from the same problems the MSM in general suffers from; being corporate owned, they have been avoiding printing the truth about the world as it is for years now. When they aren’t outright lying (as in the case of Judith Miller at the NYT and her deceptive writing/cheerleading for Chimpy’s Glorious Oedipal Crusade on Iraq,) they’re digging deep into celebrity stories to avoid printing any truth about what the Reign of Error has done to this country and the world. Even when they do print the truth, they tend to try to soften the blows by digging hard for other places to lay the blame. And today, of course, they are piling on with their electronic counterparts in an attempt to dent the Obama Administration and slow down any hope of change in this country. Seriously, how many of them continue to use the Apologist Press, which might as well be an arm of the RNC?

Bailing newspapers out as they now exist is ridiculous; the nation is not served by what they are doing these days. If there were a way to return them to the job our Founders saw for them-acting as a level check on Government power, rather than as cheerleaders for the wingtard agenda-then, they’d be worthwhile. I confess that I don’t know how you could do that, short of letting them fail and hoping for some actual news reporting to rise in their place. I believe that there will always be a market for the truth, for those who can find a way to get the truth out on the streets. That the market for the newspapers we have in this day and age is drying up should surprise no one. The truth, after all, has a liberal bias, and a liberal bias simply doesn’t exist except in little notches of our modern media.

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