Jewish World Review June 3, 2013/ 25 Sivan 5773
Suicide of a newspaper
By Paul Greenberg
When a city, or a state, loses its daily newspaper, something of its soul is lost with it. It's as if ancient
Without its daily newspaper and ritual read, even the outward appearance of a place seems to change, along with its self-awareness. Its skyline, its gated courtyards and modest neighborhoods, its landmarks and unnoticed places, no longer seem to have the same reality. A daily newspaper, besides providing a chronicle of events, validates a community, testifying to its existence every day.
It was sad to watch the Des Moines Register draw back from its state's borders; it was like watching a whole state shrink. At least the
And when the late great
It's been painful, if at times comic, to watch the Times-Picayune commit slow, computer-assisted, over-managed suicide in
Huh? If you can follow all that, you're doing better than I am. Worse than the confusion ("Honey, do we get a paper today or do I have to go down to
When the Times-Pic announced it would no longer be a daily, its front-page headline trumpeted: "Newspaper to move focus to digital . . ." though it had to add a subhead as fair warning: "In fall, paper will cut weekly editions to three."
And now, as its best staffers leave and
The absentee landlords at the distant, impersonal Newhouse chain seem to have realized they had to do something to stanch the flow of readership. And once again the Times-Pic's abused (and diminishing) readers have been assured that an Exciting Change is in the works, this one to reverse the last Exciting Change:
"Today, we are announcing a new and exciting addition to our print products. Beginning this summer, we will publish TPStreet focusing on breaking news, sports and entertainment. It will appear in a tabloid format, publishing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. The new publication will cost
What? What's that mean, exactly?
"Imagine being served a nice sizzling sirloin steak and a baked potato, but then the waiter comes and takes away the steak. You sit there for a few minutes staring at the cooling potato and then the waiter returns and announces, 'I've got exciting news. We're increasing your meal to make it more bountiful. We have a burger for you, but it's over on the counter. You will have to go get it.' Then the waiter continues. 'This is just another way that we are enhancing our customer service. By the way, the price of the burger is the same as the steak.' Welcome to Newhouse's where the service is medium rare."
What's going on is the suicide in stages of a newspaper that was once as dependable a staple of life in
JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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