Do We Really Need Daily Doses of News?
Introduction (Via Growthology)
There must be an ongoing tally somewhere of the number of stories in newspapers about the future of newspapers. In the grand scheme of things, the number is no doubt tiny, but there is an aura of self-pity (inflated by self-importance) about it. I don’t mean to suggest newspapers aren’t important or interesting; compared to my peers, I might be characterized as a dinosaur for still having–what?!–print subscriptions. But the demise of news in general (many individual newspapers will survive) might actually be a good thing for us in terms of perspective. Let’s start, first, with the present and future of newspapers: media aren’t going away, but everyone seems to have a singular concern about newspapers. Why? The usual course of things is that if an industry can’t give people what they want (and the desperation move by many mid-size city newspapers to have lots of short stories with three-inch headlines is pretty ridiculous), it will either adapt or die.
There is little room for reflection in the daily news, notwithstanding the superficial weekly attempt in the Sunday editions to reflect on the prior week’s event and what they might mean for the future. The daily news is, by and large, superficial. This doesn’t mean journalists are superficial–it’s the nature of the subject matter, not the interlocutors. And there are exceptions, of course: in-depth stories, long features, etc, are all more helpful and more interesting than the daily news.
A democracy doesn’t depend on constant, up-to-the-minute news any more than it depends on 100 percent voter participation. But don’t we need newspapers to hold our elected officials accountable? If that’s the primary raison d’etre of newspapers, then it’s (a) a thin reed, and (b) they’ve done a pretty poor job of it during the Bush and Obama (so far) administrations.