Megan McArdle offers a succinct analysis of the transition from print to web in a piece posted at The Atlantic’s website. She accuses many “commentators on the changing media landscape (of having) an unjustified fetish for newsprint.” Her points include:
— Of YouTube: “If people want to tune out the news, no one can compel them to change their habits …Maybe, in the end, we get the media we deserve.”
— “The “wholesale abandonment of newspapers” is simply a reflection of the fact that the web now provides a wealth of new technologies for delivering news and information.”
— That “newspaper partisans” lament the decline of quality, “is more newspaper parochialism than anything else. There has been an explosion of new online news outlets in the last decade…”
— “The newspaper industry is not synonymous with the journalism profession, and the latter is going to be just fine.”
I wish I could agree with her. I think her sunny outlook is that of a tech-savy elitist who enjoys the luxury of time to browse the web. Time is increasingly rare in the frantic North American workplace, hell-bent on ever-increasing productivity and profits. In this continent’s frantic culture, I suspect the web will not soon replace the role newspapers served. Newspapers gave busy people with consuming jobs — arguably the vast majority of us — information to pore over with our meals, during the brief time we sat still and focused on words on print, without electronic distractions and entertainment at our fingerprints. If I’m correct, our democracy, communities and our quality of life will be the worse for newspaper’s erosion. I would prefer to be wrong.