It is getting to be a familiar refrain. Week after week essay after essay appears on what is being lost and what might not be retrieved as the American newspaper diminishes in capacity and connection.
The latest comes from Philadephia Inquirer political columnist Dick Poleman, who posts a lament on what a newspaper provides and what will go missing as cuts ensue and endure in an industry once more populous and explorative.
Poleman notes the proposed Newspaper Revitalization Act has about as much chance as any of the thousands of bills before Congress in getting passed. But he makes an interesting point: Why not support newspapers when the chief reason for their decline is the much-publicly-supported Internet? After all, the Defence Department and other agencies ensured the Internet got on its feet and grew.
Then he moves into all-too-familiar terrain. He cites a years-long investigation of Vince Fumo, a corrupt local politician, by an Inquirer reporter and asks those who seem to take glee in the decline of the paper --- even its death: "If local newspapers die, who's going to be around to root out the next Fumo? You?"
It is easy to understand the emotion inside many print journalists who feel their good deeds underappreciated and their frustration as the business model shifts underfoot. Been there, done that.
Personally, and not speaking for my associates or my employer, I just wish we would move from that stage of frustration into a phase of applying our talent to what we do best: navigate and act intelligently in degrees of stress and crisis. The laments have their place, but that place is getting crowded and not necessarily more interesting.
What is more interesting is the work being done in places like Revenue Two Point Zero or the many digital enterprises looking for innovative ways to support good journalism in the time ahead. We won't get out of our challenges by identifying what we're losing for those who don't see it or don't much care about it.