Monday, March 16, 2009

Good News...and Bad News of Change

Most days one of my first acts is to retrieve the morning newspaper. With two journalism degrees and having spent the first decade of my professional career as a newspaper editor, newspapers have been part of my life for many years. But I know I’m a member of a dying breed.

Recently, a friend and I were commiserating on the uncertain future of newspapers. Across the country, most have seen significant circulation drops; with the economy, many are drastically reducing staff. With the immediacy of cable news and the Internet, the efficiency of current events on newsprint has diminished. That’s bad news – and good news.

Online is the future of newspapers – probably exclusively one day. We live in a high-tech world, and content of a printed newspaper often seems like yesterday's news -- even the day it's printed.

Things change: In the early ‘80s I marveled upon learning about USA Today using satellite technology to link regional presses and become a national newspaper. And was amazed to discover desktop publishing; the old cut-and-paste method now seems ancient.

Two years ago I purchased my first digital camera in preparation for my youngest daughter's wedding, and have not removed my old SLR from its bag since. When I got my first computer (a Macintosh 512K) in the mid-80s, after two days I permanently parted with my ole trusty electric typewriter. Compared to the computer, as slow as it was back then, the typewriter seemed like writing in stone.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” It’s true that fundamental requirements of society – transportation, commerce, recreation, communication, etc. – remain constant. But ways of meeting those needs do change, taking different forms. And that’s not all bad.

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