The Arkansas Times Gerard Matthews surveys last week’s online debate on “the future of newspapers” or something in which I and Blake’s Think Tank blogger Blake Rutherford threw some darts at old-fashioned high-end journalist John Brummett and he fired back and we all called each other names and a fine time was had by all.
Don’t even bother reading Matthews’ summary, because it’s a largely useless “can’t we all just get along?” exercise in studied neutrality, which is pretty strange when you stop to think that the Arkansas Times is generally the most virulently antagonistic publication in the entire state, so you might think they’d stake out a more provocative position.
On top of that, Matthews tags the online debate as “uncivil,” which is also strange, because once again, we’re talking about THE ARKANSAS TIMES here, which is not exactly known as a bastion of civility and even-handedness when it comes to discussing, uh, anything.
So anyway, you can just skip the entire thing, but I did want to highlight this bit:
One astute reader of Rutherford’s blog noted that in the absence of a paycheck, it’s going to be hard to ensure that anyone sits through a city council meeting, diligently takes notes and reports on what happens in a timely fashion. I tend to agree with that. The deadline pressure of the news business ensures that these matters are brought to the public’s attention in a timely fashion. If reports are never filed, citizens might not be alerted to a seemingly minute, but actually serious problem. And it’s easy to get bored at a legislative hearing. If it’s your job, however, you have to pay attention.
And thus, Matthews traces the grand tradition of newspapering—the hearty shoe-leather tradition of Mencken, Pyle, Woodward and Bernstein, and Lou Grant—to a sad dead end in which the highest journalistic value and skill is now apparently the ability to stay awake through an entire city council meeting. So it is written.
God I love newspapers ya’ll gonna miss ’em etc. etc. etc.
I’ll actually be weighing in on this whole matter of blogs vs. newspapers in on Sunday in, of all places, a newspaper! What rich irony! Check out the “Perspectives” section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sunday for more. (UPDATE: Here ’tis.)