The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Or so we're told by a host of characters, including religious zealots who have managed to convince 40 percent of Americans that the world will end before 2050, eviro-commies like Al Gore who would have us believe the world will cook us alive if we don't give the government even more control over the economy, as well as journalism's old guard who can't see past the death of newspapers. Trust me, if they tried to teach me anything during my two years of j-school, it was that I'll be working at a pizza joint for the rest of my life and that socialism really isn't such a bad idea after all.
Like most of these doomsday theories, however, reality is never as bad as the naysayers would have us believe. Reason Magazine's Katherine Mangu-Ward decided to prove this point by sending two of her loyal interns (including yours truly) on a mission to analyze, and find alternative source to, the print edition of The New York Times:
Newspaper. Personally, I never touch the stuff. But rumor has it there is a certain amount of distress about the impending doom of the news-on-dead-tree industry.
Here at Reason, our “News You Can Use” stories tend toward subjects like what to use as a bong when the Feds close down your neighborhood head shop, but yesterday I put our crack team of summer interns, Jesse Kline and Robby Soave, on the case of what to do after the last print run of the last newspaper ends. Our goal was twofold: 1) selfless public service journalism, and 2) selfish desire to ease the glide into a marvelous digital future.
We assumed for the sake of the experiment that The New York Times would be the last to go. Since I refuse to sully my delicate hands with filthy newsprint, Jesse and Robby paged through Wednesday’s edition in search of facts and insights that would need replacing in the event that print news goes kaput. Below is a sampling of sites you might want to include in your RSS reader or browser bookmark list, to get ready for the time when newspaper is no more. Dead tree diehards should think of the suggestions below as a stockpile of digital canned food for when the newsprint apocalypse occurs.
The experiment hit its first hurdle—and the first reminder of why newspapers aren’t doing so well—when Robby found himself quarter-less in the big city. A purchase of a Mountain Dew from a handy roadside vendor only yielded four quarters, falling short of the eight needed to extract a paper from a vending machine. Further searching led him to a Starbucks, where he could have read anything in the world online (for free!). But he chose to spend his $2 (well, my $2) on a newspaper anyway and diligently brought it back to the office.
Here’s what they found, in print and online:
Read the entire article here. Get my own personal views on the death of newspapers here.