April 20, 2017
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

Wither Print? 1 of 3

Gradually coming into focus is the very harsh prospect of a world without newspapers.  McClatchy just announced more job cuts, the LA Times is becoming a shadow of what it was.  The Rocky Mountain News is gone and the SF Chronicle may be the first newspaper to go, leaving a major city newspaperless. The NY Times, though privately owned, cannot sustain huge losses indefinitely.  So what does this mean?  I wouldn’t be so gravely concerned if there was something even remotely like a newspaper for organizing and delivering news.  It is not just the investment in newsgathering that will be lost.  It is also the issue of DESIGN.  Unlike the Web, which has almost no design in media sites.  Here design is integral in giving the reader a sense of the scope and weight of news.  Only a newspaper does that.  In the future I am sure the web will because it will have to.  But what about in the interim? It is in those cracks that very bad things can grow. Journalism is the fourth branch of government.  Losing a big part of it will mean important things can be more easily hidden.  I feel this is too important for the market to solve.  Here is the first of a series of voices on the topic.  The first is Bruce Bartlett, former Treasury Dept. economist under HW Bush.

“Personally, I am partial to the nonprofit model. Foundations, universities, think tanks and even political parties might sponsor publications. For example, the Ford Foundation might take over The New York Times, Harvard University might buy The Boston Globe and the Heritage Foundation might assume control of the The Washington Times. They could run these publications without expectation of profit and a least keep alive the basic journalistic function.”