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Newspapers: A Dying Necessity?

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This past week, the Prince George Citizen (Prince George, B.C., Canada) raised the question of how to save print journalism. This is the question of the hour, and one that deeply troubles the editor of that publication.

Obviously he has a vested interest, given the privilege of sharing thoughts with readers every week. But even more important than this, he truly does believe a printed paper is an indispensable part of a democratic society, if for no other reason than one must own up to his or her opinion, and that opinion is permanently written in ink.

In an age where governments delete emails and people take down tweets or posts that garner too much negative attention, there is something right and just about keeping a permanent written record, the article notes. It allows for a public debate in the public square of everyone's mind, and it has the distinct advantage of keeping said debate local - most of the time.

Furthermore, the article continue, "pulp and ink that go into our local paper are universally accessible, unlike the ones and zeros of the interwebs: you can pick up an old paper and instantly be engaged by news, sports, or outrageous opinion - but I've not seen a lot of old iPads left in coffee shops or truck stops to let others have a chance at reading the news of the day."

There have been endless suggestions over the years and especially the last little while as to how to save print journalism, the editor states. Of course, he adds, it all comes back to money, which directly highlights the prickly facts of journalistic life--the independent press which isn't always the most complimentary of public forces and the need to keep the lights on while writing said copy .

Public funding alone will probably not save print journalism, the editor emphasizes, pointing out that as the CBC proves year after year, public coffers are just as easily used to support the unfounded opinions of demagogues pretending to be experts at the worst fact checked cable news networks in the U.S. Whatever one may think of the newspaper's writing, the fact is they can unsubscribe from The Citizen or demand that the editor get rid of a writer - but words are not supported by mandatory fees taken off a paycheck.

Thus, he editor concludes, one reaches the following conundrum: ending printed news will introduce another barrier to a decent civil society, yet the costs associated with creating said copy are best covered voluntarily by the public in order to ensure the news remains free of corporate or government influence, and all this in an age where newspaper subscriptions have become viewed as obsolete.
 

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