The newspaper industry may be the last sign of an era that is phasing out. Papers are ubiquitous. They occupy a place on every corner of every major city in the world, and in the hearts of their citizens. This will soon end. Taking its place is an industry with little use for paper, ink, or cigar chomping reporters. The new information industry will provide updates before the ink on newsprint has had the time to dry.
Time-honored institutions that carry monikers like Daily, Globe, Herald, Tribune, and Times, cannot compete with the electronic devices that time sensitive youth have come to rely upon for their information. They have neither the patience for nor the understanding of attaching sentimentality to their information.
The names Royko, Landers, Bradlee, Bombeck, Jarrett, Payne, Fuller and Lovejoy – will their snarling, inquisitive, straight shot, humorous, and courageous styles of journalism live on? Will the Billy Goat be shuttered in favor of an Internet café? Will the sacred, crown jewel of the industry – investigative integrity - be passed along to the next era of media? The ‘State of the Union’ could very well depend on it.
No longer will colorful rows of metal boxes line the streets. No longer will the old-timers emerge from the dark to deliver magazines, papers, and tomorrows Racing Form to anonymous drivers lurching into pockets for change. No longer will they disappear back into their cavernous shacks to stare distantly into the past until another vehicle approaches. In the future, zero dark thirty in America will find the nighthawks scampering to find a trace of the past. A refuge from the cleanly swept memories of ‘open all night’.
I believe it when they say this new age of information is vastly superior to the eras of the past. Much like when Gutenberg revealed what his new invention was capable of. I am sure they will replace silly putty and copy Dick Tracy’s Sunday strip in some electronic way that brings wonder to the eyes of a child. Or cover the bottom of a birdcage with yesterday’s newsprint, and the kitchen floor when Dad brings home a new puppy. Or spending Sunday morning nestled in a cozy bed with the various sections of the paper strewn about the covers - the crossword puzzle half-finished. Yes, they will all be replaced somehow, I just can’t figure out by what.