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realclearworld

“Good Riddance”

Great piece in The American Spectator on the decline of the American newspaper (and news, generally):

[...] So when once-great newspapers (and I count the Washington Post among them) systematically empty their newsroom of truly first-class news gatherers, and when the product that results is the work of lower-wage naifs who lack sources and perspective, who confuse skepticism with partisanship, who substitute snark for insight, then what in the pluperfect hell does management expect to happen? Why should advertisers spend their dollars pitching to a room that is rapidly emptying of potential customers?

How we came to forget this truth that predates the founding of our Republic I cannot say. Certainly 23-year-old Benjamin Franklin knew the difference when he bought the weakest of the eight weekly colonial newspapers exactly 280 years ago. The Pennsylvania Gazette he took over serialized boring novels, cribbed old articles from London magazines, and had become the political tool of one of the factions of the day. By the time Franklin was finished it boasted the largest circulation and a readership that stretched from Charleston to Boston -- and two full pages of paid advertising. What the new Gazette provided was news that Americans had to have, news of ships arriving and leaving, of fires, disasters, and Indian raids, but also of business deals, goods being traded, and of course of politics, lots of politics. He printed both sides of disputes but took sides with arguments that carried the now forgotten word -- authority. Readers argued with him but never questioned his integrity.

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