Learned this week that the Rocky Mountain News (The Rock) has closed its doors and, after publishing since 1859, no longer exists. Many more such closings are sure to follow: The New York Times is on the verge of bankruptcy; some major papers are reducing to three-days-a-week delivery. My local paper, the Kalamazoo Gazette is reduced most days to two 16-page sections. Part of the problem is the economy and curtailment in advertising.
I’ve lived in many places and in every single one of them I’ve heard the local daily paper called the “rag” and the standing joke was, “Do you have thirty seconds to read today’s paper?” Everywhere I lived, same stupid line. Did that means papers everywhere were bad and scant in coverage? No. It was simply an attitude one assumed as the resident of the community, as in: The schools aren’t great and the paper stinks. Neither was nor is universally true, sports fans.
You may never have seen the Rock, much less read it. But pay close attention. If you are an internet/web enthusiast, you are about to be screwed big time and manipulated at will by whomever wants to manipulate your sorry behind.
Let me explain first how a standard newspaper works: People are hired to gather and write the news according to certain rules for stories. Individuals with journalism school experience or degrees have been trained in the system. Those who come from other backgrounds get OJT orientation and training. But every story has to meet certain standards and sources have to be checked. Stories without attribution are suspect. Pieces that are opinion are supposed to be labeled as such.
The reporters go out and come back to a big room, much like a bullpen (school of cubicle-modular before the development of cubicles) and pound away on a typewriter, or later a computer. Editors, their supervisors, sit among the workers and as stories are being written, there is a continuous flow of questions, directions, challenges to facts, etc. End of day, the paper comes out (or the next morning), everyone goes home, and comes back to start again. What has been produced is a group effort and virtually every piece of information in the paper has been vetted, checked and challenged by the system before it goes into ink.
What replaces newspapers?
First response seems to be the internet.
Where does the internet get its news?
Where will news come from after newspapers die?
Answer: Dunno, but look at Fox news cranking administration press releases into stories.
Who referees a blogger or verifies his or her accuracy in claims?
Answer: Nobody. I decided to blog. Nobody checks my stuff. If you take my stuff or other bloggers as gospel, you need to rethink your values.
Who can produce a blog or internet site?
Answer: Any jamoke who can afford the software.
Where on the internet can you got to visually see and sense the range of the day’s news? (As in spreading out the newspaper on the table….?)
Answer: I don’t have a clue.
Can you spread the paper out and scan it while you eat breakie or dinner?
Answer: Well, I guess a laptop is sort of like that.
Can you read news on a screen for long?
Answer: Hell I can’t even read it for short. I have to print everything out and read hard copy in real time.
Okay, I realize this is a abuttuva Saturday morning rant of sorts, but I am deeply concerned by this development and I think you should be too. Once newspapers are gone, who will perform the watchdog function papers’ served? Some individuals on the internet? Possibly, but the internet collectively is basically created without standards or a desire or even interest in accuracy and truth. How many times have friends sent us stuff and we have then looked around to verify it only to find out it was just one more example of random internet bullshit floating in the ether. This happens damn near EVERY DAY with the net. It RARELY happens with newspapers. Of course there are crooked or incompetent reporters. But they get weeded out. Who weeds out internetters? And how?
Friends, I’m anything but a Luddite, but the passing of newspapers is a damn serious moment in history in this country, folks. Believe it.
A friend of mine is teaching a university. She teaches individuals who want to be school administrators. Last week in class she used the word “fastidious” and drew a classroom-sea of blank faces. She then questioned them. Not one had ever heard the word, or could define it. This made me cringe. The massive and widespread lack of reading, the choosing of visual and aural gewgawism over content is about to catch up to us and sink our butts big time.
Hey, the Michigan Conservation Officers Association [MCOA] annual dinner is tonight up north. Last night the cops and game wardens played a benefit game for a good-guy trooper, and my pal Reg the Yan-Cannuck is coming up from the dark shadows of Indiana this afternoon. A lot of the world is falling apart, but there’s still a lot of good stuff and good people.