Apr 1, 2009

Will Sundays Be the Same?

I’m saddened to read that another local paper, The Chicago Sun-Times, is going bankrupt, one in a string of recent Chapter 11 filings by newspapers across the country.

Yes, I know that newsprint is just a medium not the message. And I'm not even a Sun-Times reader. But I’ll certainly add my name to the long list of mourners for the passing of that simple routine, holding the world in our hands, or one newsroom’s view of it, for a few minutes each morning.

I’m pro-technology. In fact, my favorite handheld device is my Kindle2. So any mourning I might profess has less to do with the loss of the print format, than with the looming loss of a specific type of content - vetted information from sources and individuals I trust.

The Internet has brought many blessings, and greater knowledge and easier access to it is certainly one. But there has been unfortunate collateral damage too. In a "wikipedia content world", each of us has thousands more viewpoints to choose from than twenty years ago. But group-think, especially with little to no contribution accountability, feels weak and dangerous. Pundits argue that the "crowd" will discipline contributors. As in the Salem witch trials? Ugh...

And most importantly, in aggregate, do thousands of spontaneous opinions give us a more balanced picture, or more pleasure, than one single beloved print copy arriving at the front door?

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