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Trust us, we’ll survive

Citizen Staff Writer



Newspapers are being felled across the land – victims of overextended media chains, corporate greedheads, a searing recession and a singular lack of foresight and imagination amid the dawn of the Internet, craigslist, blogs and Twitter (which I believe is an incurable genetic condition).

Surviving dailies are ordering layoffs, pay cuts and unpaid furloughs for staff members, while hunkering down to continue business as usual.

(They’re even slicing into the salaries of newspapers’ top dogs – who, a la AIG, wisely now rely more heavily on bonuses.)

Clearly, change must come. But I’ll believe the newspaper industry is dead when they drive a spike through the heart of that last little Kingman Daily Miner or Summit Daily News.

Until then, reports of our profession’s death will continue to be widely exaggerated.

Tech-happy gurus Clay Shirky and Dave Winer already are dancing on a nonexistent grave, giddy that hordes of Internetters will take our place.

Shirky’s new book title – “Here Comes Everyone!” – underscores his glee.

And yes, it is wonderful when common folk band together to foment change, whether via the Internet or any other means.

It’s what Americans have been doing in this democratic society all along.

Those mini-revolutions usually relied on information circulated by newspapers. They still do, except now it’s newspaper information that’s been recycled onto the Internet.

Shirky doesn’t express much concern about the flip side of the fiber optic, but the Internet is where the miasma of terrorism, from radical Muslims to American Nazis, can coagulate, too.

And it’s the favorite playground of petty thugs without a clue. Their uncensored slander and libel via online comments would have prompted lawsuits in an earlier age. But now they’re anonymous, and they can do anything – no matter how vicious, how stupid, how wrong.

That’s the Internet – a cacophony of idiocy and brilliance where everyone can join in, whether helpful or harmful.

Winer insists, “The sources will fill in where we used to need journalists,” with judges, jurors, witnesses and others telling you the outcome of court cases, for example.

But Internet anarchy can’t fill the void newspapers would leave. Someone still must do the often mind-numbing reporting, and someone must separate the wheat from the chaff.

Cyberspace drenches you in misinformation, some sophisticated and subtle, some not.

Mark Morford nails it on sfgate.com: “Whom do you trust? How do you know? How the hell do you actually find anything resembling balance and context and through-line, when no one has an editor and anyone can say anything and the concept of ‘journalistic professionalism’ is nowhere to be found, because no one wants to pay for it?”

Indeed. The newspaper you’re reading right now has a gun to its head, but it’s filled with information that’s been gathered and vetted by professionals.

No one welcomes its death, not even its harshest critics.

Because just as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News helped to keep the Seattle Times and The Denver Post on their toes, so has the Citizen provided a counterpoint to the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Weekly.

The venerable newspaper war is an honorable battle fought by professionals who follow a strict code of conduct.

The Internet sans newspapers would be a soulless, lawless place that few if any could navigate.

So yes. Some terrific newspapers are biting the dust in this recession, and our companies are being forced to reorganize and even reinvent themselves.

But newspapers dead? Not on my life.

Reach Billie Stanton at billiestanton@gmail.com.

Internet anarchy can’t fill the void newspapers would leave.

Our Digital Archive

This blog page archives the entire digital archive of the Tucson Citizen from 1993 to 2009. It was gleaned from a database that was not intended to be displayed as a public web archive. Therefore, some of the text in some stories displays a little oddly. Also, this database did not contain any links to photos, so though the archive contains numerous captions for photos, there are no links to any of those photos.

There are more than 230,000 articles in this archive.

In TucsonCitizen.com Morgue, Part 1, we have preserved the Tucson Citizen newspaper's web archive from 2006 to 2009. To view those stories (all of which are duplicated here) go to Morgue Part 1

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