Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Bad News for Newspaper Addicts

The 21st century - and the later part of the 20th - have not been good times for newspapers. The latest bout of bad news involves the San Jose Mercury News which while not yet out, is once again down. Those of us who are newspaper junkies hate to see the grand old newspaper names disappear.

[Lector: Wait a minute. You do nothing but criticize newspapers. What's this sudden case of the miseries when one of the major media finds itself on the skids?

Auctor: Well, I do something other than criticize newspapers. I read them. Three a day, most days. Not counting weeklies. And, yes, most are in an advanced state of cultural and moral collapse. Maybe they always were. But there's something exciting about newspapers. The first thing I do visiting a city is buy the local papers. It gives you a feel for the place. If you don't understand that, I can't explain it. Anyway, like God and the sinner, one hopes for their conversion rather than their extinction.

Lector: "Three a day"? "Like God and the. . . ."? Oh, for. . .you're such a pompous, bloody hypocrite.

Auctor: Occasionally, yes.]

Where was I? Oh, yes. This part of L.A. County was awash in newspapers when I was growing up: Long Beach had the morning Press-Telegram and the evening Independent, the Los Angeles papers included The Times, The Mirror, The Examiner, The Herald Express, and I think the old Daily News. I get arguments on this last. I'm told the Daily News folded long before my time. But I swear I remember it; perhaps I dreamed it. And I'm not confusing it with the old Valley News and Green Sheet which was the parent of the current L.A. Daily News, which still doesn't circulate much outside the valley despite its new name. All gone now but for the Times and the PT. And no more evening papers at all. The internet has its place but it's no replacement for a proper newspaper. You can't fold it up and stuff it in your pocket or circle the good parts or fling it across the room half way through a half-witted editorial. And Lord knows there's no shortage of those. Even so, I don't want The Times to die. I just want to run it myself.