Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Prehistoric, maybe, But the Newspaper is Far from Extinct

Some call internet technology the next evolution of convergence. Some call it the uber-combatant in a war between the media. Call it anything you want except a replacement.

The newspaper is America's blood and its roots. The newspaper has been around since America was first being colonized. It informed the virgin colonies on happenings in Europe and acted as their printed voices when they had none. It's old and wounded - from battles with radio and television - but it can still drive this American car and should not be permanently deleted yet just because a new medium has started to mature.

Though the internet represents the newspaper's strongest adversary, the internet is faceless. The internet symbolizes a wired, connected global community; a community that is not defined by borders, nor seperated by large bodies of water and land. In reality, the world is. There are language and culture barriers that will continue to distinguish the faces of the world's inhabitants.

Yes, these inhabitants are now able to communicate with similarly-minded peoples of different countries, but only through a text conversation and script interaction. One cannot walk outside their frontdoor and stand beneath the umbrella of a Texas sunset, watch the sun go down and talk to their friends in Providence or Taiwan about that sunset without having to describe it. Those friends cannot experience that sunset through their laptops.

Newspapers will likely have to swallow some of their national and global pride and forfeit a responsibility it established so many years ago, but it cannot allow society, the world, and, most importantly, their readers to forget the value of the newspapers' tradition - community news and faces.

Google news cannot understand the impact of a local school bond proposition the way a reporter with a child in the school district can. MSNBC could never write an obituary for the hardware store owner who sold the hammers and nails to three generations of homebuilders in a small town.

Maybe newspapers cannot compete with the internet giant. But because it's taller than the tallest building, the internet will never be able to distinguish the millions of worker ants - their faces, their names, their lives - that keep this Giant colony alive.

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