>Yesterday Bob Kravitz (sports journalist extraordinaire for the Indianapolis Star) opened wide and stuck both feet in his mouth by calling out bloggers for not using their real names. He says that bloggers are not reliable and are, in fact, “weenies” for hiding behind nom de plumes. This got me thinking. I have never been to journalism school. I took English in college, as well as some creative writing courses. Sometimes I write great stuff that makes people laugh, and sometimes I have trouble stringing a sentence together. This is why I don’t get paid for my writing. Perhaps someday I might write a book, but it would not be something I write overnight. But I digress.
If I remember correctly, newspapers began with the invention of the printing press, and during Revolutionary War times, newspapers were printed in people’s houses and were not the big corporate entities like we have today. The papers that did well did so because their writing was good and their facts were reliable. People bought those papers instead of the ones that were bad and untrustworthy. This is how competition works.
When a newspaper fails, it does so for one of several minor reasons, but the main reason is almost always the same thing: the readers went elsewhere for their information. I used to subscribe to the Des Moines Register, even when I didn’t agree with their slant on things, because it was the only game in town if I wanted information that didn’t come off the local TV news. This was back in the 80’s and early 90’s.
When I moved to Indianapolis, I got the Indy Star. I enjoyed the Star, but eventually it came down to the fact that I am a busy person, and I never had time to read the Star. I do have time to read 18to88, stampedeblue, bleedcubbieblue, foxnews, directorblue and several others, for my sources of information. I also wander past indystar.com from time to time to see if there’s any local news that’s interesting. Since I’m not from here, most of the news doesn’t affect me.
I still get the Star, but just on Sundays. Why? Because the $1.50 per week is worth it, given the several dollars in coupons I get. If they stopped carrying coupons, I would cancel even that subscription. Why is it that I don’t subscribe to the daily paper? The same reason that I don’t pay for natural gas: I don’t need it. My house isn’t set up for it, and I never use it. If I got a bill in the mail from the gas company, I would not pay it, since they don’t provide a service for me.
My final point goes back to the idea of competition I brought up in paragraph two. If the Indianapolis Star (and Bob Kravitz) go under and cease operations, it will be because people have stopped using them as the credible, reliable, first line news source that they are supposed to be. Newspapers were great fifty years ago. They were great thirty years ago, but I don’t know how relevant a news outlet can be when they only produce one edition every 24 hours. News sites on the internet can update minute by minute. Fifty years ago, people read the newspaper to find out what happened yesterday. If you pick up a newspaper today, you will find out what happened. Yesterday. You can go to any news website (or turn on CNN or Fox News Channel) and find out what is happening RIGHT NOW.
Do I find it ironic that I am writing this article about something that happened yesterday? Yes. But I am writing it now, and you are reading it now.