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P.I.’s demise an opportunity

Posted: March 25, 2009 11:18 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
In the Sunday, March 22 edition of The Signal, columnist Michele E. Buttelman expressed despair at the closing of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

I sympathize with her loss, but to me the closing of the P-I and the transfer of The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times to journalistic hospice status is good news, good news, good news.

She states that newspapers create a sense of community by publishing birth announcements, obituaries and results of sporting events.

She might have also mentioned that they published a series of 50 stories about some guy who got ladies' panties stuck on his head at Abu Ghraib while avoiding stories about murderous fanatics who cut off the heads of young boys because they were playing with a soccer ball given to them by an infidel.

They print countless apocalyptic stories about global warming written by people who studied typing in college.

She also tells us that newspapers "keep tabs" on politicians. Please. During the last election, did her beloved P-I "keep tabs" on the Obama campaign or was it just another part of the Democratic party's advertising apparatus?

Ms. Buttelman also instructs us regarding the importance of the First Amendment in the fight against tyranny.

In the best tradition of progressive courage, she gives us an example that is three decades too late: "Ever hear of a free press in a communist country?"

If she would have said that back when it would have actually meant something, like back in the days when Robert Scheer was singing the praises of North Korea, she would have been ostracized from the fraternity/sorority of acceptable journalists.

More timely examples might have been "Islamic country" or "progressive country with arbitrary ‘hate speech' laws." That wouldn't be "in the P-I."

Newspapers are folding not just because their technology is the informatics equivalent of the slide rule, but also because of a suffocating and intolerant ideological conformity.

Every two weeks, I get an invite from the L.A. Times to subscribe. I send them back (postage pre-paid): "Why would I send money to an organization that has nothing but contempt for me and denigrates those ideas that I value most on a daily basis?"

Ms. Buttelman ends by telling us we have a near-patriotic duty to subscribe to a newspaper. (We're already paying for NPR.)
This is wrong.

I subscribe to The Signal because I like the feel of a paper with my morning coffee and because I get local news and a certain degree of diversity of opinion (an actual difference of opinion, the type of "diversity" that the left loathes and attempts to suppress at every opportunity).

We do not have a duty to subscribe. Newspapers have a duty to produce news products that inform rather than proselytize. With the death of each P-I-like institution, I see an opportunity for information distribution to become more democratic, diverse and decentralized. Wakes can be happy events.


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