Monday, December 1, 2008

The Decline and Fall of Newspapers?

It looks like at least for the time being, the KC Star is healthy enough to survive the current economic crisis and continue publishing a printed edition for the forseeable future. That, to me, is great news (pun intended).

I like to read the paper in the morning, and not just for the comics and crossword puzzle (although those two things are high on my list of desirables for a paper). No, it's because I get news in an easily viewed, highly visual, thorough and broadbased way. In the newspaper, I can scan the headlines quickly and easily, but also dive directly into articles without waiting for pages to load, ads to swim across the viewing area, etc. And if I decide I want to read something else, all I have to do is shift my gaze, not mess with a mouse to find the "back" button and search for another article!

Additionally, reading the newspaper is one of the most effective and easiest ways to be informed and knowledgeable about the world -- in fact, the recent ICI report made that conclusion, which I blogged about here.

While some may decry the "liberal bias" of the editorial staffs of traditional newspapers, I find that the general reporting of the actual news stories is identical to what is found online (on both conservative and liberal websites). In fact, those websites often use the stories from the papers as their sources! And most websites don't have the dedicated and trained journalists to track down, verify and coherently write a good investigative article, especially on highly local issues and concerns (like the KC Star has done on Mayor Funkhouser or the Overland Park Soccer fields). CNN and FoxNews aren't going to care what the wife-crazy mayor of KC is doing, or how great it will be for OP kids to play soccer in the rain. No, we need the paper -- I need the paper -- to stay informed, stay connected, and stay intelligent.

If I were to guess, most of those self-proclaimed politicians who scored so damned low on the ICI test of civics don't read the paper -- they just have their staffs edit and condense the news into soundbites. What a waste and a sad indictment of our nation.

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