EDITOR’S DESK: The weekly high-buttoned shoe
“My picture's going in the paper!” - an oft-heard comment from just-photographed children over the years.
Normally, we just try to put out our own paper and not worry about what other publications are doing. Our plate is full enough trying to round up news that Westside readers might want to know about.
But it's hard to ignore changes elsewhere. Near at hand, the Gazette last fall started an online news "blog," in which unpaid "citizen journalists" write nearly everything. Then, last week, the daily eliminated 33 jobs, including 10 in the newsroom.
Coincidence? We don't think so.
In what seems to be a self-fulfilling prediction, the Gazette and many other big papers are cutting size, costs and (arguably) quality. The typical refrain is that the world of electronic news is at hand; printed newspapers are becoming the equivalent of high-button shoes. There are studies, of course, by high-powered survey firms, proving that modern youths don't want to get their news from papers anymore. They want to go online and click away.
I have no surveys, but I have a different take. I believe that many people like a printed newspaper and always will. It's tangible, real, something you can spread on the kitchen table, share with family and friends, possibly clip and save, even hold in front of public officials on occasion.
Unfortunately, many of the newspapers whining about electronic incursions seem to have forgotten such realities. Scared of losing the "big" audience, they have turned their backs on their most loyal readers and become politically correct pack-followers - doting on mass murderers while downplaying community volunteers, highlighting stories that incite panic while ignoring solid local news (case in point: the Westside). Do they really think that routine is going to sell any better online than it has in news racks?
A child who can't wait to see his or her picture in the paper does not automatically evolve into a grown-up who refuses to read one. The problem isn't the medium; it's the message.