Sunday, April 5, 2009

Print Journalism RIP

My college major was journalism. I was set on becoming a newspaper reporter long before Woodward and Bernstein's All the President's Men shunted hordes of college freshman, who would otherwise have become accountants and English teachers, into journalism schools.

One offhand statement by one of my professors at Northern Arizona University, either Dr. Bert Bostrom or Dr. Dal Herring, stuck with me first for its absurdity, and later for its staggeringly accurate prescience.

One of these professors said that in a few years, we would read our newspapers on a monitor in our home, printing out the articles that interested us. It would be this mysterious force, this new ways of reading the news, not television newcasts, that would sound the death knell for newspapers.

The time was the late 70s. No internet, no personal computers at the time. I could not even conceive of such a thing.

Fast forward to 2009. The revered Seattle Post-Intelligencer is shutting down the presses after 143 years of publishing; it will publish only an on-line edition.

The equally respected Detroit Free Press is cutting back to only three days of home delivery.

Even the venerable New York Times laid off 100 staff persons last week.

Media pundit Marshall McLuhan said, "People don't actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath."

I understand why it is necessary, and, of course, the wastefulness of natural resources on so many levels of the home-delivered paper, but still I'm sad to see the decline of this institution of the fourth estate.

To mangle quotations from Winston Churchill and FDR: "The only thing we have to fear is change itself."


Her Artichoke Heart said...

Wow -- how did Dr. Bostrom predict on-line news in the 1970s? That is pretty amazing. I love that Marshall McLuhan quote. It's such a shame all these newspaper are cutting back and laying off staff. I love the internet, but I love curling up with the NY Tiems on Sunday mornings, too. Curling up with a computer, or even a Kindle, just isn't the same....

Her Artichoke Heart said...

NY Times is how I meant to spell it. Duh!