Newspapers did it to themselves…

In a comment piece on Yahoo, Georgie Anne Geyer has some interesting observations from the annual meeting of the International Press Institute.

…it was at first a little hard for many of us to grapple with the idea that Internet news, blogging and independent citizens writing “out there” could be taking over not only our jobs, but even our sacred function.

I was assuming that this was done in an ironic tone; ‘sacred function’ my arse. But as i read the rest of the article I realised that she meant it.

After all, Internet “reporting,” outside of traditional papers and agencies with their own Internet sites, has no discipline, no historical principles to underlie it, and no gatekeepers to keep it honest and correct. How can citizen bloggers or others letting off steam on the Internet possibly compete with centuries of derived experience since Gutenberg developed the printing press in the 15th century? How can they vie with well-trained journalists’ meticulous and endangered reporting on the world?

Perhaps they learnt it all from the example of newspapers?

To be fair she does use a quote from the ever even tempered Dan Gilmour to note that things arent so clear cut before going on to illustrate what she thinks is the problem.

But the problems of print journalism today lie far outside the parameters of the looming, hulking, essentially ungraspable Internet. Many of them flow around incredibly bad financial planning that has destroyed too many of the old “family newspapers” that held up standards in newspapering, just as family publishing held up standards in book publishing.

Her point…

If newspapers as we know them fade — or disappear — we will lose our cohesion as a country. Only a newspaper offers the citizen a comprehensive view of society and holds him and it together.

But by her own admission newspapers are less capable of doing that and in this respect she falls in to the either or camp. Of the decision to go to war with Iraq she says

That’s one of the things you get when you don’t have seriously run newspapers, and the Internet will only make the problem much worse.

So we need to focus on getting our newspapers right. Supporting that sacred duty to uphold truth and juctice where we issue all reportrs with blue suits to get changed in to in handy phone booths so that they can do battle with the internet.

God help us all. These people really are living in the past. With terms like ‘Sacred function’ being waved around next thing you know she will be saying that God told her that she was right and that newspapers are the only way forward – look what that did to the US. 

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