I confess: I'm tired of arguing about newspapers. In my city, one of the most literate in America, there's still a numb feeling from the loss of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Rocky Mountain News is barely cold in the ground. Thousands of skilled journalists are unemployed and perhaps can never regain their former living standards. The suicide of the industry has little to do with what the dumb-downers and consultants claim. All the enemies we made over the years can dance on our graves. But the issue is pretty well settled. Some newspapers will remain in some form. But the era of great newspapering is over.
So comes Jack Shafer's latest rattle-the-cage piece on Slate, "It's Time to Kill the Idea that Newspapers are Essential for Democracy." Shafer claims he likes newspapers, but...the Republic did fine for its first 100 years without investigative journalism, most people don't care whether newspapers survive, many newspapers did mediocre work and even the best journalism rarely kept government honest for long. Also, "political parties, special interests, and government itself all have a stake in the maintenance of elections and democracy."