By Leo Coughlin
Whatever the future brings, it will be a life without daily newspapers.
Notice there is an "s" on the end of the last word of the previous sentence.
There may be a newspaper or two around. If Carlos Slim, the Mexican zillionaire, has his way he might end up with the New York Times, the most prestigious of all American dailies.
Or Rupert Murdoch, current proprietor of the Wall Street Journal, could wind up owning the Times. Murdoch is said to salivate at the thought of replacing the Ochs-Sulzberger dynasty.
The world goes more and more electronic. We all know that. Gadgets that even those of us who grew up on Buck Rogers could not imagine are now commonplace.
With the convenience of communication and accessing information that we enjoy personally, the other side of the coin tells us that somewhere some data base has everything that is known about us.
Change. Or mutability - and the poets wrote about it.
". . . the unimaginable touch of Time." - Wordsworth.
"Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability." - Shelley.
Time - it give us everything and it takes everything away.
You take this life day by day, one day at a time, which really is the only one can, for nothing can be done about yesterday and tomorrow is yet to be, and what you wind up is with the realization that life is all about goneness.
Whatever is will be gone; whatever was is gone.
And so it is with the newspapers. There are those of us who love them. There is something lovely about a crisp and fresh newspaper, pristine and unopened.
There was a wonderful character named Moe Berg who was a Princeton boy who wound up in the big leagues of baseball. Berg was a character unto himself and a lover of newspapers. Moe loved newspapers but he would not touch a newspaper that another had already read. The paper needed to be virginal before Moe's hands and eyes dug into it.
All over the country daily newspapers are dying. They flicker like lights and then go out, disappear.
In days gone by newspaper names stayed alive very often through mergers so at one time there was a paper in New York named the World Journal Telegram Sun. There, in one publication, were the remains of four papers.
There are cities - big cities at that - now in our fair land that do not have a daily newspaper. Really.
The reason for all this goes beyond the current economic crisis we are in.
When was the last time you picked up a daily newspaper and saw significant news that you didn't already know? Of course, you saw it already on one of the cable TV channels or the Internet.
And advertising has fallen off because there are other venues - again, the Internet.
There is talk, foolish talk, about government subsidizing newspapers. Heaven forbid! That would destroy the very idea and purpose of a free press.
The business needs to fall or survive based on its own and varied resources. To interfere, to support, to gin up some support mechanism (in this day and age of bailing out every failed entity) would be counter to exactly what newspapers are - individual and private enterprises with the freedom to print whatever they want.
Yes, the dailies are dead, it seems. But the weeklies - ah, that is another story.
The newspaper you now hold in your hands will survive, because what it offers in the way of news and information cannot be found on cable or the Internet.
No other medium fills the niche and has the marketable appeal of the weekly with its club news, personal notes, strictly local interest news and commentary.
It's almost biblical - the exalted shall be humbled, and the humble exalted.
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