So, fine, print is basically dead, whatever, I’m getting over it, and I’m probably not even going to join that Facebook group “Don’t Let Newspapers Die,” because unless the group plans to nail its messages to the doors of newspaper executives in the middle of the night Martin-Luther style, it’s an exercise in cosmic futility, not to mention that their stated positions are pretty vapid and unconvincing, even to me, a guy who has cried tears of ink of many a night watching this death spiral unfold. The positions are, as directly quoted:
- Newspapers are an important & historic public resource.
- Journalism is vitally important to the impartial gathering & reporting of news.
- Newspapers are cool!
At this point, better arguments for the continued existence of newspapers (as Michael Shapiro and I spent a day brainstorming on for our proposed newspaper survival advertising campaign) have to appeal to practicality. Some ideas include:
* You can’t wrap a present in the internet
* Why waste a good towel when your dog throws up on your floor?
* An iPhone won’t keep you dry in a pinch during a rainstorm
* Birdcages look naked without it
* Try stuffing your wet shoes with internet and see what happens
* Your Twitter post doesn’t transfer onto silly putty
* Without newspapers, what are you going to whack your cat with?
See? Much more practical. Appeal to the physical realm, because apparently no one cares that the high-quality investigations and storytelling of newspapers has yet to be fully replicated elsewhere, or that through history newspapers have served critical roles in shaping our democracy. Boooo-ring. But start telling people they’ll actually have to buy wrapping paper even for those I-hate-this-person-but-feel-obligated-to-go-to-their-birthday-party occasions, and we might start to get some traction.
Print may be dead, but it’s clear the world still needs copy editors. This is just from the course of a few hours wandering around the city yesterday. I let the signs in Chinatown slide. For now:
Yikes. Maybe if this is the only other option, people will finally start flocking back to newspapers, happy to entrust their gifts to the comics page rather than being forced to purchase roll after roll of wraping paper.