Tuesday, April 23, 2013
As the Koch brothers plot to buy up a bunch of major newspapers (because buying congressmen isn't giving them sufficient yield), the common thought in Left Blogistan is "Let them! Print is dead."
There is truth to that, but that truth should come with some sadness.
I no longer get many magazine subscriptions. I used to get The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Men's Journal and National Geographic. Now I just get Esquire. And frankly, I read a fair amount of Esquire online already.
This is because I no longer have the time to luxuriate in a New Yorker article on the Bloomsbury commune or alcohol consumption among Peruvian Indians. So why bother?
But the result is that my reading world has gotten smaller. Every year I use a George Packer article from The New Yorker on Lagos. I would venture that it is one of the readings that has the deepest impact on kids, and I never would have found it on my own.
Blogs have the power to embed things, and that's a nice way to broaden your reading world, but that ultimately becomes an example of epistemological closure. Your reading tastes take you to similar things and you lose that random article on conservation in Siberia that would never have crossed your path if you hadn't cracked open National Geographic.
And if the Koch Suckers buy up newspapers, then that process will accelerate. True journalism - rare as it is - that investigates and "tells truth to power" is already disappearing. Turning some of the few decent papers in America into corporate shills will only draw the lines tighter.
So, yes, buying the LA Times is unlikely to create the rapacious libertarian free for all that the Kochs so desperately desire.
But it will impoverish our intellectual life just a little bit faster.