11 February 2009

On the Death of Newspapers

Businesses and institutions are dying left and right these days, but, still, we New Yorkers naturally assume some familiar landmarks will stay with us no matter what. No one's going to tear down the Empire State Building. We're not going to give the Statue of Liberty back to the French. There will always be a Broadway, however diminished. And every morning will begin with the New York Times.

We may want to rethink that last one. As much as living in New York City without the New York Times (as we know it) is an unacceptable thought for me, I was forced to begin considering the idea after reading an unsettling piece in The Atlantic called End Times. You'll have to read the thing yourself to fully grasp how far up shit's creek is the hugely leveraged Grey Lady. (Moving to a expensive new building just before a huge recession, when you're already experiencing decreasing ad revenue and circulation is not a good idea. And doing business with unseemly Mexican billionaires is so un-Timeian.)

But it was this passage that really seized my heart, and not in a good way:

The collapse of daily print journalism will mean many things. For those of us old enough to still care about going out on a Sunday morning for our doorstop edition of The Times, it will mean the end of a certain kind of civilized ritual that has defined most of our adult lives. It will also mean the end of a certain kind of quasi-bohemian urban existence for the thousands of smart middle-class writers, journalists, and public intellectuals who have, until now, lived semi-charmed kinds of lives of the mind.

Hey. That's me.

If I had known that, as a free-lancer, I was living such a charmed, bohemian existence, I would have enjoyed it more.

1 comment:

Therese Cox said...

I just read a bit about this in the Irish Times (in the Sport section, oddly enough). The columnist pointed out, reasonably enough I thought, that newspapers will find a way to survive because what else will we use to wrap up our fish and chips? Ah, priorities!

Great site, by the way. I found we both have a liking for that 4 on Verandah Place, despite that new door.