I felt a great sadness in viewing a feed where the Seattle Post Intelligencer printed its last newspaper. They will now switch over to a web-only news source which will employ less staff. I grow weary of seeing good American workers being laid off. Some will say, new job opportunities will open up, but that does not put food on the table tonight. At times, I wonder if up to the second information is worth someone’s job. In this era of information overload are jobs within the information business now expendable? Sadly, that is our new reality.
One sign I took particular note of is, “Journalism is a passion that never dies” What a powerful sign if ever I saw one. I can highly relate to it even though I have never worked for a newspaper. Oddly and ironically as I champion newspapers, my works are only published on my blog as well as OpEdNews.com. Although I have been published in a local newspaper…More on that in a minute.
Whether you write as a professional journalist or as a citizen journalist, writing the story is your passion. It makes no difference if the piece is timely or riveting, the passion comes from writing a piece you feel noteworthy for many to read. It is a creative process so few understand.
I have always looked upon writing anyone column as a birth process and once it is finished, you send it on its way to spread its wings and hopefully make a difference. If it does not, still you felt some inner desire to write that one piece. To any writer, their column is their child since it comes from them.
In the past, I have written nine guest editorials as a citizen journalist for a small local newspaper and it was an honor to have one’s piece selected for publication or in my case nine. You may not have heard of the North Shore Sun based on Long Island, but to have one’s thoughts put to print for the masses to read and not solely one specific demographic on the web…In your hand you held proof that it was indeed circulated to the masses thereby fulfilling your passion.
This newspaper who felt my editorials were deserving of print space, is a weekly newspaper and stood the test of time for one full week. They were not instantly replaced by any refresh button in the blink of an eye. The pride one feels in having their pieces published in a newspaper outweighs having a piece published on any web site. For those of you who have only had your pieces posted on a web site as opposed to actually printed, trust me in this. You may ask why and I will tell you. It is because some editor thought your piece just as noteworthy. You as an Internet writer may also say, that I do not need any editor to feel any validation, but editors are also losing their jobs as the presses stop printing. They along with the laborers who run the printing presses will be forced to go find other work.
After any one of my columns were published, those living within my community, and who know me could walk up to me and start up a conversation concerning that one piece. Oh believe me they have. They were able to approach me in the grocery store as well as on the beach and I always gave them my time. Many of them were not familiar with my blog or the numerous sites I have written for, but that local newspaper, is a source of information they are familiar with. What happened as a result was a conversation between a writer and their reader. Conversing with a reader is a writer’s greatest reward or if they do not agree their greatest nightmare. But, that is the price of putting one’s words out there.
The New York Times in their weekend subscription ads states by subscribing, it keeps the conversation going. Isn’t that the purpose of any newspaper? That is applicable to any portion of that newspaper. You can snip out a piece and mail it to your Aunt Selma who may not have a computer and say, “Gee, I thought you as I read this piece.” It makes the conversation personal between two human beings. You may say, well print out something you have read on the Internet…Well what happens if you do not own either a computer or a printer? There are still folks who do not own either.
In hearing of the death of the Rocky Mountain News, it too affected me since I have been to Colorado twice and that was the paper I read. I wanted to read what issues were relevant to the lives of those living in that state or of interesting places to visit. Should I ever return to that beautiful state, where could I find this information if it happens to other newspapers such as the Denver Post? I do not own a laptop. Nor, do I want one. You may say to visit an Internet café. That was not the reason for me going there in the first place. I would rather experience nature then being tethered to some computer inside a café.
There is a personal experience one gains in being away from others alone with your newspaper, while having a cup of coffee (if you like coffee). There you sit alone while digesting the news and coming away feeling richer for it. Or if angered, crumpling up said newspaper in sheer disgust. In an Internet café, one can become distracted by any number of background noises such as the clicking of keyboards. Imagine if you do not like what you are reading, try destroying a computer that does not belong to you. Just some food for thought.
Each morning, as I eat my breakfast, I devour my Newsday and I cannot even think at this moment in time what my morning routine will be like should Newsday stop their printing presses. I will truly mourn that day as those who read the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News are feeling in the present. To me, information is a life force.
As I viewed the feed depicting the death of this one newspaper, seeing the empty sale boxes collected and stacked was akin to the stacking of coffins. They truly symbolized the death of a newspaper and the information gathered within its pages. Over time, some have taken for granted walking down a city street to gaze upon any newspaper’s headlines contained within these boxes. Should this momentum carry over to other newspapers and I suspect that it will…What will replace them? Will it likely be a kiosk where one can slip in one’s credit or bank card to surf that news source. Who knows. But, it can no longer be called a newspaper.
What happens to those who no longer have credit cards or bank cards for that matter? What happens to those who can no longer afford to connect to the world-wide-web? My guess is that their only source of information will come from the television. Then, what happens if they can no longer afford to hook up to cable and dish networks? These people are then left out of the conversation. Newspapers are still vital and far more democratic since most can still afford them as opposed to any other news medium.
I will leave you with this one food for thought. During the 2003 blackout, many newspapers went to press using backup generators. They kept vital information flowing to the masses. If one solely relies upon the world-wide-web and television for their news source and should the power go out, so goes the flow of information. With our electrical grid still in need of repair, this is when an actual printing press trumps the Internet and television any day of the week.