Grinding ever onward, no downward. That’s the fate of America’s newspaper industry, and perhaps the most trusted means of keeping the nation’s people informed. Now McClatchey, the country’s second-largest newspaper chain, is filing for bankruptcy.
As these dire developments in print journalism continue, start counting the minutes of actual news on the nation’s evening television newscasts. We’d bet they’re declining too. Will it matter so much what actually happens in the nation – its cities and towns – if fewer and fewer people are reliably informed about the daily news?
Some of us used to deliver newspapers to customers’ doorsteps daily and Sunday and felt we were performing a service in doing so. We felt we were helping to hold our communities and, yes, the nation together. (And making some pocket money too.)
Yet here’s the Sacramento Bee, the newspaper that started the McClatchey chain, saying that the Chapter 11 filing will allow it to restructure its debts and, it hopes, “shed much of its pension obligations”. There are “10 pensioners for every single active employee – a reflection of another economic era.” Well, gee, somebody had to gather the news and get those newspapers out. What happens to them now? This is all beginning to sound pretty ghastly.
And there, on the NiemanLab digital site, the bankruptcy story is accompanied by a YouTube video.
Does it matter what happens in public life if nobody is reading about it, and barely listening either? Sounds like an information crisis exists, but who is to confirm that’s so? A teenager on his bicycle hasn’t left that information on your doorstep, and won’t.