Monday, May 04, 2009

It Can't Be, Can it?

The news this morning shouldn't come as a shock, or even a surprise.

And it shouldn't bring tears to my eyes, or a funny tight feeling to my chest.

But it does.

The New York Times Co. said this morning that if it doesn't get more concessions from labor unions, it will close The Boston Globe. The New York Times Co. bought the Globe in 1993, and there are those who say it hasn't treated New England's newspaper very well.

Newspapers have been dropping faster than flies. But this loss, if it happens, hits particularly hard. A major city like Boston without a good newspaper?

Hard to fathom.

What are we coming to in this society if we cannot sustain a newspaper? How does democracy work when the fourth estate goes missing? So now, without a newspaper, without reporters to write about police brutality, crime, corruption, city waste and mismanagement, how do people find out what they need to know?

So maybe this is just the Times' putting the squeeze on the labor unions (apparently the negotiations with the unions stalled after the Times realized it had made a $4 million accounting error, and wanted more sacrifices from employees.)

But we can't let it happen, not in Boston, the site of so much of our early history, where the seeds of the Revolutionary War took sprout.

We've got to figure out a way to keep journalism alive, if not in ink and paper, then on-line. Because the job of newspapers is still critical. It matters.

Except maybe not to the New York Times Co.


Anonymous said...

I'm torn here. Reading the Times Union a week or so ago, there were 3 instances where I was referred to an internet link if I wanted the story. If you expect to keep the paper ON paper, why not give me the story ON the paper I have been paying for at the rate of $110 for 20 weeks.

What if news was online rather than paper? I have a computer and internet service. I can easily get my news there--local, national, and international. But what about those who can't? Do we really want to cut out the non-computer people out there? There are an amazing number of them.

Then, again, there is the issue of what to do with the huge amount of waste material created by the news companies. Should we continue to create expensive recycling procedures that are, in and of themselves, wasting vast amounts of energy? Should we be concerned with the amount that ends up in our presently overflowing landfills?

Last, while newspaper sometimes actively seek to uncover corruption and waste, those instances are relatively few. In actual fact, they usually come more often than not only when the information has grown to the point that it cannot be ignored. Case in point: the 20 or 30 year parking fiasco in Albany. No reporter saw that happening all over the city hall and court areas in all those years--some of the very areas reporters should have been diligently covering?

I'm having a hard time feeling sorry for newspapers. Yes, I think they can and have played important roles since their inception. However, just like the floundering banks and auto corporations, newspapers have created this situation by allowing their papers to become less relevant, by not changing to appeal to new and different generations of possible readers, by not covering the real news.

Claudia R said...

Dear Anonymous, You raise very important issues here, and I understand why your heart isn't breaking for newspapers. They have allowed this crisis to happen, and they have not been very imaginative in adapting to the Internet. AND, as you say, reporters are not out there nearly enough diligently uncovering the wrongs of the world.

All that being said, where are we as a society headed WITHOUT newspapers? I wish I could believe that the Internet would supply reporting. But mostly, blogs and internet sites recycle news (witness this blog, referring back to reporting by someone else.) Can we create internet sites that hire reporters to do the work of policing government? That would be ideal. But one thing is sure, it takes time and money to do reporting, and I am not sure, with news being "free" on the internet, where the money is going to come from.

I appreciate your comments very much. I would love to talk/dialogue with you more!

Claudia Ricci