Examiner of Chronicle: Future Foreshadowed in Fog Features?
“An obituary does not propose a solution,” Richard Rodriguez observes toward the end of his Harper’s Magazine article, Final edition: Twilight of the American newspaper.
“When a newspaper dies in America, it is not simply that a commercial enterprise has failed; a sense of place has failed. If the San Francisco Chronicle is near death—and why else would the editors celebrate its 144th anniversary? and why else would the editors devote a week to feature articles on fog?—it is because San Francisco’s sense of itself as a city is perishing.”
If you haven’t guessed, it’s not an optimistic article, but Rodriguez tells a good story and knows how to save a special phrase for the end of a sentence…
“Newspapers have become deadweight commodities linked to other media commodities in chains that are coupled or uncoupled by accountants and lawyers and executive vice presidents and boards of directors in offices thousands of miles from where the man bit the dog and drew ink…”
Personally (and this is a blog, after all), the article makes me want to go write my own 6,000 word magazine article, mingling nostalgia for my Daily Hampshire Gazette paper route and my old Hartford Courant bureau reporting with something optimistic about the future of journalism.
But I’m too busy catching up on some real news in both those papers… It’s a fire story, of all the traditional newspaper things! And covered by both with all the latest online tools, from YouTube video to Google Maps mashups. That first link was to the Courant (est. 1764), where I saw the story yesterday; here’s the Gazette (est. 1786), and my old hometown paper does appear to be doing a good job of local reporting in a crisis.