Jack Shafer's latest column for Slate pokes at the assertion that the decline of the newspaper is by implication a dimmed democracy.
Unlike many print-averse commentators who have taken on this topic in recent months, Shafer comes at it from a more positive place --- he loves papers and buys four each day out of his own pocket.
He sifts through the paper and sees precious little that equates with a furtherence of democracy.
"Even an excellent newspaper carries only a few articles each day that could honestly be said to nurture the democratic way. Car bomb in Pakistan? Drug war in Mexico? Flood in North Dakota? Murder in the suburbs? Great places to get Thai food after midnight? A review of the Britney Spears concert? New ideas on how to serve leftover turkey? The sports scores? The stock report? Few of these stories are likely to supercharge the democratic impulse."
Indeed, to suggest so is to place too much pressure on the paper as a cheat-sheet for democracy, he asserts. 'On those occasions that newspapers do produce the sort of work that the worshippers of democracy crave, only rarely does the population flex its democratic might."
Shafer asserts it's time to stop equating the loss of newspaper might with a loss of democratWithout the newspaper, he says, voters will still find enough information to make their institutions accountable and pick the right candidates.