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"The Passing of the Papers"

Recorded 03-02-09

1) 2:25 The Passing of the Papers MP3

2) 3:02 The Passing of the Papers MP3

The Passing of the Papers
[col. writ. 3/1/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For American newspapers, some that have been giants for generations, this is the age of Ragnarok. In Norse mythology, Ragnarok marked the destruction of the universe, when even the gods fell from their heaven. (Asgard).

For ages, newspapers have been the seedbeds of the information garden. Although seemingly threatened by the new technologies of radio and TV, this proved more appearance than actuality, for both mediums relied on the data uncovered by intrepid, although little-know newspaper reporters.

But we are now in the age of the Internet, a medium that only one newspaper (the Wall St. Journal) has successfully exploited.

That, added to lower circulation, and the flight of advertisers to the 'net, has spelled doom for newspapers.

In recent days, both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Philadelphia Inquirer have been forced to face the dilemma of bankruptcy.

Just a week ago, the Rocky Mountain News of Denver, Colorado closed its doors after a century and 1/2 of operation. As of Sept. 2006, the Rocky Mountain News had a reported circulation of over 250,000. But the key isn't circulation, it's advertising -- and advertising is fleeing.

Indeed, about 2 years ago, a media research firm executive said some papers didn't want bigger circulation -- they wanted a smaller, but more wealthy circulation base.

Colby Atwood, head of Borrell Associates, told a New York Times reporter that a "quality circulation" is more preferable "than quantity", and it was a "rational business decision" to "shed" the subscribers who cost more and generate less revenue." *

When newspapers intentionally "shed" some subscribers they are cutting their own throats in pursuit of fool's gold.

And although most articles don't mention it, I remain convinced that newspapers are dying for quite another reason. In a time of war, when readers needed their services most, many papers simply took a dive, and served the interests of power, rather than the needs of the people. Most papers sold the president's line because they feared that they would be seen as disloyal in wartime, and lose subscribers.

Instead, they lost readers anyway, because people couldn't believe what they read in black and white.

In fact, even before the Iraq war some news execs sent memos to their staffs warning them NOT to show wire photos of civilian casualties in the Afghanistan war. One memo told reporters to "play down" such stories.*

Is there any wonder that such a product is in decline?

--(c) '09 maj

[Sources: *Perez-Pena, Richard, "Why Big Newspapers Applaud Some Declines in Circulation," New York Times, Mon., Oct. 1, 2007, p. c1.:

*Johnson, Chalmers, NEMESIS: The Last Days of the American Empire (Metropolitan Books: New York, 2006), p.30.]

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