Time to get humble

It’s unfortunate to see the response to the closure of newspapers around the USA. There are myriad closures, staff retrenchments and newsroom faces full of sorrow. The half-hearted, ineffective attempts by print organizations to move online have not achieved the goals. As Clay Shirky says, they weren’t humble enough to believe they would really be ‘threatened’ by a new format. They didn’t prepare the old-school journalists for reality. They treated the changes as ‘novelties’ or ‘gimmicks’ rather than real attempts for survival, and journalists who really tried to get with the program were marginalized or attacked for their attempts. The old-school journalists continue to believe, even with the world crumbling around them, that the old ways of doing journalism – the 100 plus-year traditions – should survive.

They sincerely believed that Jefferson’s statement about prefering newspapers to government literally meant newspapers. In, as my husband says, a format that relies on spreading ink on crushed trees. In any case, Jefferson’s point is decontextualized in this oft-quoted piece. He follows it with “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”  Hmm.  “Every man should receive those papers…” Doesn’t that kinda mean news should be free?

And if we’re saying Jefferson was literally referring to newspapers in that single format, then surely we can also say he only really cared about men being able to access them, not women. Right?

Of course not. Jefferson was talking about the value of news and the need for all people to access it. He was, of course, writing before any other mass media format existed. Doh!

I feel sorry for those who believe Denver’s loss of the Rocky Mountain News was the only cut that would happen. They think only one paper will be supported. I’m predicting closure of all printed news media in these smaller markets. The Denver Newspaper Agency is already starting to do this. Maybe they’ll continue to tweet the funerals of their own papers in the same way they thought it was appropriate to Twitter the Funeral of a 3-year-old child.

Humble yet?


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