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Technology & Innovation

The Newspaper: The Watchdog Sleeps

A lot of people are crying the blues over the slow demise of the home delivered newspaper. I’m not one of them although I’ve been a journalist my entire adult life.

The newspaper with printer’s ink, paper, and pictures should be put out of its misery pronto. It’s costing media companies billions of dollars in loses. it’s forced publishers to get in bed with members of the Chamber of Commerce to sell advertising. it has placed editors at the mercy of the paper’s marketing department and emasculated reporters to the degree that they missed uncovering some of the biggest stories in the last 50 years–the phantom weapons of mass destruction, the mortgage mess, the financial meltdown, the $64 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme, and the deregulation of the financial services industry that has put the fate of the nation in peril. Besides, in this neck of the woods and other areas I’ve visited finding a person reading a newspaper in public is similar to getting a glimpse at billionaire recluse Howard Hughes during the 1960s and early 70s. Let’s face it. The only people who give a real hoot about newspapers are some old coots like me, people with lots of time on their hands (a rarity) and people who need supermarket coupons or something to wrap fish in. In a day when all kinds of visual images and text can be placed in a small hand held device not much heavier than a snowflake or on a computer screen that can bring to “life” a story in all its glory, it makes no sense to carry around an ugly looking newspaper the way the Founder’s did in the day of Ben Franklin. It’s so sad. The newspaper is like a rich uncle who lost his fortune and now hangs around with holes in his shoes and a shine on the back of his pants making people feel guilty and uncomfortable in his presence. To show just how desperate things have gotten I was billed the other day for $3.30 by my local newspaper after I cancelled my subscription and accused of being a deadbeat although I didn’t know any money was due. My bank check, I might add, was cashed “faster than a speeding bullet.” The solution I like best from what I’ve read would have every media company in America scrap the print edition of newspapers, go entirely on-line, pool some resources such as collectively hire a large team of investigative reporters to revive the sleeping watchdog. Media mogul Ted Turner said years ago newspapers were the last of the smokestack industries. He was right. Now it’s time to get rid of of the relic. 


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