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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Down and out

This is a long and depressing article about how print journalism has gone from heady optimism a year ago when Jeff Bezos plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post to despair and fear today because Gannett, Tribune Company and E.W. Scripps -- three of the biggest players -- are kicking their newspapers to the curb as do-or-die stand-alones so they can concentrate on their TV properties. And as bad as it is for the big national papers, it is even worse for "the regional newspapers that take up most of the now-independent publishing divisions." It's very grim out here in the sticks, in other words:

So whose fault is it? No one’s. Nothing is wrong in a fundamental sense: A free-market economy is moving to reallocate capital to its more productive uses, which happens all the time. Ask Kodak. Or Blockbuster. Or the makers of personal computers. Just because the product being manufactured is news in print does not make it sacrosanct or immune to the natural order.

It’s a measure of the basic problem that many people haven’t cared or noticed as their hometown newspapers have reduced staffing, days of circulation, delivery and coverage.

Will they notice or care when those newspapers go away altogether? I’m not optimistic about that.

That's the most depressing part -- the possibility that newspapers have become so unimportant in people's lives that they don't care about their downsizing because they haven't even noticed it. As to whether they will notice when we're gone altogerther, I suppose that will depend on what has taken our place in providing useful and/or entertaining information. there is evidence enough that TV is facing the same kind of stress as people move to other technologies and, hell, the Internet is even starting to feel the pressures from smartphones. So there's a little "misery loves company" factor -- it's nice to know we're not headed to the cliff alone. Still no fun to be the first one over, though.

OK, Monday Morning Blues vent done. All better now.