Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Future of Newspapers

Clearly, I'm a regular LA Times reader. Lots of the content for my posts is sparked by my daily habit of cruising through those crinkly pages to find out about our world.

For a while, I've been wanting to post about the changes newspapers are undergoing. That's why something on television struck a chord with me.

I was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week. (See Wednesday, Sept. 24th episode here.) As he joked about how the various media approach Sarah Palin, he pretended to forget what newspapers are.


Stewart jibed, “You know, those things that smudge your hands. You know, you wrap old fish in them.” Aah, the bitter satire.

Unfortunately, it’s so true. The sea change that is swamping our country’s papers is sweeping them away. The Los Angeles Times I hold in my hands today is a pale, pared down version of what I read just three months ago.

Round after round of leadership change and staff cuts has reduced the scope, breadth and depth of what comes into my home each day in plain ole black and white. The push is towards the Tribune’s website and growing list of blogs. And that’s great. Maybe a change is inevitable; maybe it’s just what is called for.

Frankly, I’m surprised by the quality writing that the paper is maintaining despite the battering by economic and social forces it’s endured during the last few years.

If this interests you, Columnist Steve Lopez said it best this summer. See if his plea brings a misty tear to your eye.


Bridge said...

I'm with you on the love of my newspaper. I read our local daily paper and the Sunday New York Times.
On my time off from being mommy and home engineer, I love to take a hike and then go to my favorite coffee shop and read the paper.

I adore journalism, perhaps in a another life I would have been an AP writer working oversees.

Begin - writing, yoga, and more said...

Hi Bridge -
I know exactly what you mean.

And as much as I love my computer and the internet and blogs, there is just something elementally satisfying about holding the paper in my hand, folding it alongside my breakfast plate, or tucking it into my bag for later in the day.

I just don't think I'll have the same experience onscreen.

But maybe I'll adapt - in the same way the newspapers are having to do!!


Andrew Scott Turner said...

I am a veteran of journalism, having worked as a reporter, editor and bureau chief for an assortment of New England papers for the better part of 12 years.

I won't decry the demise of the newspaper so long as the writing doesn't stop. I am encouraged that owners are not closing doors, but rather opening Windows in order to stay alive. Okay, that was corny, I admit.

Some will fail, no doubt. Others, like the hometown weekly where I got my start 20 years ago, could very well thrive, ironically. By seeing her daily competition phase over to the Web, the weekly could very well make a comeback.

Begin - writing, yoga, and more said...

Hi Andrew-

Well, your background explains the quality of your writing!

Your joke may have been corny, but I laughed.

I think you're right. Change may be a postive force. The key is that people keep writing and reading.

Best to you,