Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The 300-year death rattle

Some much-needed perspective here:
“The newspaper is dead, long live the newspaper!” has lately become the incantation of advocates of e-journalism, who argue that the twenty-first-century death of the newspaper hardly merits a moment’s mourning, since it is no death at all but, rather, a rebirth. Even if that turns out to be true—and you have to hope it is true—the digital newspaper could do with a better slogan. Invoking the hereditary succession of a divine line of kings to celebrate the zippy thrill of reading an RSS feed on your iPhone runs counter to the history of the newspaper. Our rulers do not rule over us for as long as they live and, when they die, their heirs do not inherit their titles. That, in short, is what the beginning of the American newspaper was about.

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