What We Lose When Newspapers Die

Models for reviving the newspaper industry continue to flood the blogosphere with today's Times roundtable of media experts including two Big Think guests.

Regarding the smaller papers which are folding like a line of dominoes, Columbia School of Journalism Dean and Nicholas Lemann notes, we should realize what we are mourning. Most small or regional papers did little more than deliver content. Quality, writ large, took a backseat and slipped across the board over the recent years of newsroom cutbacks. At the local level, sub-par writing was to some extent acceptable as town and city papers served as a vital conduit for public information. At the national level, not so. Any media consumer with a modicum of acuity will not shed a tear when USA Today, for example, folds. To the tumult over the imminent changes facing media, let's add another: the US is the only country on earth facing such a tide of newspaper shutterings. Could foreign models, where many papers are state-subsidized, readerships far more loyal, and viewpoints more politically diverse, mark a way forward?

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
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Cornell engineers create artificial material with 3 key traits of life

An innovation may lead to lifelike self-reproducing and evolving machines.

Shogo Hamada/Cornell University
Surprising Science
  • Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
  • The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
  • The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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After death, you’re aware that you’ve died, say scientists

Some evidence attributes a certain neurological phenomenon to a near death experience.

Credit: Petr Kratochvil. PublicDomainPictures.net.
Surprising Science

Time of death is considered when a person has gone into cardiac arrest. This is the cessation of the electrical impulse that drive the heartbeat. As a result, the heart locks up. The moment the heart stops is considered time of death. But does death overtake our mind immediately afterward or does it slowly creep in?

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  • A huge segment of America's population — the Baby Boom generation — is aging and will live longer than any American generation in history.
  • The story we read about in the news? Their drain on social services like Social Security and Medicare.
  • But increased longevity is a cause for celebration, says Ashton Applewhite, not doom and gloom.