HELLO? Bailout people? Mr Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson? Aren't you forgetting somebody? Like me? I'm a print journalist. Talk about financial meltdown! Print journalists may soon have to send their kids to public schools, feed dry food to their cats and give up their leases on Prius automobiles and get the Hummers that are being offered at such deep discounts these days.
The print journalism industry is taking a beating, circling the drain, running on fumes. Especially running on fumes. You could smell Frank Rich all the way to Nome when Sarah Palin was nominated. Not that print journalism actually emits much in the way of greenhouse gases. We have an itty-bitty carbon footprint. We're earth-friendly. The press run of an average big-city daily newspaper can be made from one tree. Compare that to the global warming hot air produced by talk radio, cable television and Andrew Sullivan.
There are many compelling reasons to save America's print journalism. And I'll think of some while the waiter brings me another drink. In the first place, one out of three American households is dependent on print journalism.* And if you think home foreclosures are disruptive to American society, imagine what would happen if USA Today stopped publishing. Lose your home and you become homeless: a member of an important interest group with many respected advocates and a powerful political lobbying arm. But lose your newspaper and what are you going to do for covers on a cold night while you're sleeping on a park bench? Try blanketing yourself with Matt Drudge to keep warm.
The Government is bailing out Wall Street for being evil and the car companies for being stupid. But print journalism brings you Paul Krugman and Anna Quindlen. Also, in 1898 Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal started the Spanish-American War. All of the Lehman Brothers put together couldn't cause as much evil stupidity as that.
Continue here (The Australian, dated 11 December 2008)