Monday, March 9, 2009

Trading newsprint for curruption

In the words of the song, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." So it may be with Newspapers. As the "dead tree" news business crashes under its own weight and mistakes, we do have to think about what we are loosing. Paul Starr, a Professor of Communications at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson school, has taken the best look at the end of the age of newspapers and what it may be ushering in.  It's in the current issue of The New Republic. For anyone who ever cared about their newspapers it's a must read. Money quote:
News coverage is not all that newspapers have given us. They have lent the public a powerful means of leverage over the state, and this leverage is now at risk. If we take seriously the notion of newspapers as a fourth estate or a fourth branch of government, the end of the age of newspapers implies a change in our political system itself. Newspapers have helped to control corrupt tendencies in both government and business. If we are to avoid a new era of corruption, we are going to have to summon that power in other ways. Our new technologies do not retire our old responsibilities.