I am starting to seriously worry that we are about to lose our daily newspaper.
Another long-time reporter had a farewell column today and just last week the publisher announced that he was retiring (at age 55) to “start a new chapter in his life.” With roughly another 30 years to live he could probably squeeze out two chapters if he tries hard. Who retires at 55 anymore in this economy? It sounds suspiciously like gettin’ out while the gettin’ is good.
I don’t blame him for making choices that suit his life. The paper’s online edition has dozens of comments about this announcement, half of them blaming him for the paper’s decline. It would be nice if there was someone to blame, but I doubt it is the publisher who has only been in residence for 6 years.
The thing that worries me is that we may actually lose our daily. If you have read this blog in the past you know I am serious about my local daily. I think we may be on a path to go to a three day a week paper like the Times-Picayune and I think that would be tragic. I need written words for news in order to process and review, to check the byline and have some semblance of trust that actual journalism is taking place. I don’t want to watch TV for my news and I don’t want to have to get everything off the Internet either. I want a newspaper dammit!
And you can’t have any good lunatic letters to the editor online, because then every yahoo in the world can comment on them. I want to comment on the letters out loud, to my husband, over coffee, not read someones inarticulate name calling. Spoils the whole thing.
I am also concerned that “citizen journalism” will devolve into something that only barely resembles reporting. Like lots of folks I rely on Twitter and other formats for up to the second information but social media also makes Snopes a necessary bookmark. When I was a kid there was a morning and afternoon paper and we all thought it was the death of news when we became a one newspaper town. And that was when we still had two independent entertainment weeklies and a couple of art mags. We though we were so deprived.
I know we have the internet and I can watch BBC and read the Washington Post and all the syndicated columnists I can digest, but its not the same as my grubby city newspaper with its county council antics and state house news.
I sure hope I am wrong about our daily.