Monday, May 16, 2005

Newspapers...to Die or Sacrifice

Death; senseless, meaningless death. Sans sense, Minus meaning. The death of a close friend; a friend as reckless as he was admirable. An accident. A totaled truck. A wedding he would never remember because he was in a coma, no doubt thinking of the girl he was leaving behind.

Death is without purpose, without reason, without sense.
Sacrifice is sacred. It's hopeful, fearless..Full of hope without fear.

Are newspapers dying or are they sacrificing themselves?
It's the difference between being reactive and being proactive.

Newspapers are dying. They die because they are victims. They are victimized by radio, cable television, and the Internet. They follow blindly in the shadows of these and public opinion. Public opinion; giving the public what it wants - settling - instead of telling it what it needs to know. It's a medium catering to an audience rather than creating one.

Newspapers are dying because they misunderstood. "Deepthroat" was not an anonymous source; he was not a personification of intrigue. He was a symbol of protest, a manifestation of an ideal - the American spirit, the hero, as envisioned by Thomas Paine. Watergate was the pinnacle of the last great American Movement.

The country is too partisan, but more than that, it's fragmented. I was ADD before it was cool, but my dream of being a great writer has always been the shiniest object. It's an ideal so ingrained, the dream itself is tradition. Traditional ideals are what newspapers have forgotten.

Newspapers should be the mirror of society - reflecting images of society not the reflection itself. That's objectivity. We the people of this country must see our worst traits alongside our greatest strengths. Those weaknesses are not isolated within our governments, businesses, or prisons.

The people expect these stories of corruption because they dwarf our daily indiscretion. Only not. How many Cancer cells can fit on the tip of a pen? If magnified through a microscope, a single Cancer cell can cover a white wall like wallpaper.

The newspaper is not venturing into uncharted territory. It's death has been prophesized many times before. And each time it's adapted into what society needs it to become. This time, society is too splintered to give a consensus. Newspapers need to make an executive, Utilitarian decision. For a divided public, "greatest good" is larger than the sum of its wants.

If the newspaper is going to go the way of the dinosaur, let it sacrifice itself for the dream from which it first rose, not die of its human frailty. My friend, he died never experiencing the best moment of his life, but he would have sacrificed everything to be awake during his marriage.

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