Matthew Yglesias over at the Atlantic has an incisive take on the annoying bias of journalists towards print media. Even notably rational tree-killing news sources like the Economist get all preachy about the internet when they’re reminded that having somebody hand deliver the words their writers set down literally days before is just kind of silly.
Yglesias comments on Russell Baker’s crotchety waving of the walking stick at the younguns in his review written in the NYRB:
“The Internet” can’t replace The Los Angeles Times‘s congressional coverage, but the congressional coverage of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post (plus the wire services, plus the non-print media) plus The Hill plus (if you’re willing to pay) CongressDaily, CQ, and Roll Call most certainly can. What “the Internet” can do is make it very, very, very easy for a person in Los Angeles to access that kind of coverage.
In other words: you don’t need a local paper for national and international news. You don’t need an airplane full of reporters following Clinton around to know what she says in her latest rendition of her stump speech. You just need a couple. Yglesias goes on to point out that the existence of too many newspapers is good for one group: newspaper writers. If you have fewer newspapers, you’ll have fewer reporters. Implicit in this is that you’ll actually have better journalism: the surviving reporters may well be the best ones money can buy.
The unstated dark side: is the country ready for the rise of the celebrity reporter in the print media? The one nice thing about journalists getting paid far less than they could make in other fields of endeavour is that we know they’re not in it for the money.