I remember when I first heard that the western world’s print media was dying. It seems that, with the rise of the Internet, the market share of the common newspaper is shrinking precipitously*, to the point that the ground is literally dissolving under their feet. As I tend to have a soft spot for the classical trappings of civilization (and an inexplicable love for the scent of newsprint), my first reaction to the news, naturally, was sorrow.
But you know what? Over the intervening years, I’ve read a lot of newspapers, and come to one inescapable conclusion: They all deserve to die.
Take the English Canadian market for example: we have papers written for unsophisticated conservatives (The Sun chain), papers written for sophisticated conservatives (The National Post and the rest of the Can-West Global chain), a paper written for people who like to pretend that they are centrists, but who are really just conservatives in denial (The Globe and Mail) and a paper for centrists (The Toronto Star). For some perspective on what this means, seventy-five percent of major Canadian newspapers and magazines endorsed Stephen Harper in 2011: this in spite of the fact that less than forty percent of voters actually did so.
Internationally, things are even worse; Canada, for whatever reason, has been mostly shielded from Rupert Murdoch’s malign influence regarding our print media, but the rest of the world does not seem anywhere near as lucky. We are constantly subjected to the most inane nonstories and celebrity gossip being promoted as if they were the real news; political coverage is reduced to a horse race; minor differences are endlessly fought over as if they actually mattered, and pseudosymmetry is always the order of the day.
Now I’ve heard people complain that, on the Internet, anyone can publish anything, so it makes it far more difficult to figure out what’s really going on. But is that really all that much worse than the situation in traditional media, where a small number of very rich people can publish anything, and everyone else has no say at all? Is that really conducive to finding out what’s really going on in the world?
So seriously; let them die. Let them all die. And hopefully, they can take television news media (which is even worse) along with them.
*Although, this is really just the ultimate continuation of a trend that started as far back as the invention of radio.