Tuesday, October 11, 2011

R.I.P. (Remember Ink and Presses?)

This morning I read online that The Denver Post is offering buyouts to its newsroom staff. The paper is losing money, and if at least 20 of the more senior reporters don't accept the buyouts, there will be layoffs.

This will not be a big headline in the grand scheme of time, but I must pause for just a moment to register this latest failing vital sign of the newspaper industry.

Although I am not a regular reader of the Post, I am a big fan of newspapers. In my deprived childhood, spent without television, newspapers were my family's primary link to the larger world. I pored over every page--the news, the sports, the comics, Ann Landers, even the bridge column.

Then when I entered college, I never wavered from my decision to major in journalism: Brenda Starr had been my role model as long as I could remember; what else was I going to do? My first job was working on a newspaper, and I loved being a reporter just as much as I had thought I would.(If the love of my life had lived in Washington, Kansas, I'd still be there today, but I had to leave to meet him.)

Working for a newspaper means working for tyrant deadlines that roll around with relentless regularity, and for every Hearst who made a fortune at the trade there are thousands and thousands of us who barely could pay our utility bills. Still, there was something about being the conduit between the event and the reader that was intoxicating in its responsibility, and the joy of writing every day? Well, that's one reason this blog exists.

So I'm mourning the diminishing of another newspaper, but I can't say I'm surprised. Take a look at the 10 links people are clicking most often in the online edition. Photos of the Bronco cheerleaders. Photos of people around Colorado. Photos of fall color. Then seven consecutive stories on the controversy surrounding the Bronco quarterback choice. 

The newspaper medium, with its varied and nuanced stories, is just too old and stodgy for those of us who live in the digital age, and like it or not, we all live here.

I would never, ever have predicted that I would live in the era during which the newspaper died. But then again, those who loved the decorum and predictability of traveling in horse-drawn carriages probably never imagined the transition to the automobile.

Resistance is futile, and progress is not a bad thing, but that doesn't mean I won't look back without just a touch of sadness.

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