Good morning, Netizens…
In my so-called quiet time this morning, I have been contemplating the potential sale or closure of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among the many other noble newspapers that are currently up for grabs nationwide. Once again, David Horsey has struck a pose with elegant discernment, perhaps even issuing the strident warning that the Founding Fathers of this great country intended for us to have a strong Fourth Estate to counterbalance government. If that is what they intended, what is going on?
Granted, the traditional business model of the printed American newspaper as we have known it to be for most of our lives, is in jeopardy. The combined costs necessary to place a hard copy newspaper on our front steps each day has simply overwhelmed the revenue it generates in an economy that has descended into a stygian wasteland under the George Bush presidency. More and more once-grand voices of journalism in print have fallen sadly silent as massive layoffs have become the order of the day, even at our own beloved Spokesman-Review. Some of the greatest newspapers in the United States are dying as we speak. If he were alive, even San Francisco’s late-great Herb Caen could face a layoff notice in this economic climate and you can count me as one of his true disciples.
When such dire events occur, people by human nature want to point a finger at someone to blame simply because, I believe, it is easier to appoint blame than it is to understand and rectify the underlying problems. Although true financial figures are in short supply, it does seem plausible that the business model of the online newspaper may not only supplant the revenue of traditional printed newspapers, but allow them to survive to face better financial times. Perhaps that business model, based upon online revenues may even become the standard of the future. Nobody knows for certain.
However, the blame, while shared by a rotten economy, rising costs and a series of horrific events that have or are about to take place have eliminated some of the finest journalistic voices of our lifetimes, the problem is much deeper than that. According to a survey undertaken nationwide by ABC news 7 million Americans are illiterate, 27 million are unable to read well enough to complete a job application and 30 million can’t read a simple sentence.
23% of people living in America are funtionally illiterate. 25% are a little better than functionally illiterate.
These are what I call the “shadow people” who eke out an uninformed existence, and have been and are the majority of the dim bulb portion of our populace. Given the number of literacy resources available across our country, there is simply no excuse for being illiterate but it is one of the reasons why people do not read newspapers. Yet another reason people do not read is television’s easy denial. If you watch TV news, you are informed, right? Who needs to read? That is the mindset that so boggles my mind, that one-quarter of this country have never read a book. My God look what they are missing!
I will leave you with the saddest of days at the Post-Intelligencer, when the people whom have given their hearts and souls were told it might be over. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/395463_newspapersale10.html
My tears, and I am relatively certain the tears of countless others reading this will join together in a flood of silent protest, with kudos to David Horsey for his elegy this morning.