Losing newspapers is sad, but not “the end”

I, for one, am growing increasingly weary of what seems to be an endless stream of “woe is me” that is coming from the American institution known as “the press.” Despite decades of warnings that it had lost the faith of the people (the end of which should have been obvious to even the most self-deceived), there seems to be no end to the “save us at any cost” whining that is spewing from this elitist, modern institution. “The press,” of course, is the newspaper business; they long ago decided that broadcast journalists didn’t really belong to the club.

It reminds me of the last verse of the classic Luddite song/poem, General Ludd’s Triumph:

Let the wise and the great lend their aid and advice
Nor e’er their assistance withdraw
Till full fashioned work at the old fashioned price
Is established by Custom and Law
Then the Trade when this arduous contest is o’er
Shall raise in full splendour its head
And colting and cutting and squaring no more
Shall deprive honest workmen of bread.

We toss the term “Luddite” around these days as representing a person or group that resists technology, but this was a violent, destructive group in England that fought the industrial revolution with fire, axes and ultimately murder.

Even when the pieces are extremely thoughtful — such as Paul Starr’s New Republic piece, “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)” — they drip and ooze with special kind of self-righteousness that is more soppy nostalgia than anything constructive.

Meanwhile, it takes a little entertainment website like TMZ.com to unveil the opulent doings of a bailed out bank in playing “host” to last week’s PGA tournament in Los Angeles, the independent online media service Crikey to uncover the facts about online censorship in Australia, and a group of bloggers in New Zealand to take action regarding an insane new copyright law.

As Lisa Williams, founder H2otown, said so beautifully, “Journalism will survive the death of its institutions.”

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