Last month Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO did a piece on the decline of newspapers. All across the country newspapers are cutting delivery days and staff. Many are moving towards online presences that rely on clicks and ad revenue, which basically turns your local paper into one of those clickbait articles like this or this. And the obvious problem is: if reporters are so busy blogging and Tweeting, how are they going to do real investigations, like the sort depicted in Spotlight, where the Boston Globe took down the Catholic Church's coverup of child molesting priests?
And, yeah, I can see all that but in the end it's like: what the fuck am I supposed to do about it? Am I supposed to go buy subscriptions to every newspaper until my apartment looks like something from Hoarders? Because here's the sad reality for both newspapers and books: people don't want a bunch of fucking paper cluttering their houses. Not when I can just turn on the Kindle Fire and read the same stuff without even having to go to the front step.
With books people say it's good to have a hard copy you can read even if the power is out or whatever. Some even say they like the smell of the paper. But no one really can say that about newspapers. I mean maybe some people like the smell of ink--some people like the smell of toe jam too--but newspapers are so disposable that people use them for dogs and birds to shit on.
Like so many things--especially all those manufacturing jobs lost to Mexico, China, etc--there just aren't any great answers. The one thing I know is short of some horrible catastrophe, you can't turn back the clock to the 20th Century. Like trains, radio, cassettes, CDs, and so forth, there's just no way that newspapers are ever going to have the same relevance they once did. Their time is over. And yet as John Oliver pointed out we do need to worry about the decline of real journalism. Still, there's just no way to put the genie back in the bottle.
One thing you can do is get more involved in your local world. If reporters aren't going to be around to keep corrupt politicians in line, it falls to ordinary citizens to do so. Maybe go to some local council meetings. Am I actually going to do that? Fuck no. I got other shit to do. But you other people go do that and if something appears shady, post it on Twitter and Facebook and your blogs. I deputize you all as local reporters now!