If you needed any proof that newspapers as we know and love 'em have entered their End of Days, it might be from a question posed a last week's WonderCon comic book convention in San Francisco. "Will The Daily Planet face a collapse like every other American newspaper?" a fan asked of writer James Robinson at a panel.
Robinson, who writes a rather lacklustre Superman comic, replied with non-committal reference to Morgan Edge, a toady of the extra-dimensional despot Darkseid. In the Superman comics of the 1970s, Edge's Galaxy Broadcasting System bought out the Daily Planet and summarily gutted it to enhance their broadcast media division. Most notoriously, Edge poached mild-mannered Clark Kent from the Planet newsroom and set him up as the anchor of WGBS's nightly newscast.
It might be interesting to see how the collapse of print media is portrayed in the Superman universe, but can we trust a print media outlet like DC Comics to have any perspective on it? At this point, I'm more likely to watch the Fables of Print's End Times on Ugly Betty.
Reliable sources tell me, howev, that the finest pre-mortem on the cadaver-in-waiting is Season Five of The Wire, but damnit, we found another glimmer of hope for the old broad(sheet). Anyway, I'm nowhere near Season Five, just getting settled into Season Two, thanks. Yes, I watch TV at a slower-than-normal pace, but that's the beauty of the 21st Century. You can do things faster, but you can also do things more slowly.
It wasn't blogs that killed print, though, bunk. There's not as much useful and meaningful knowledge in ten thousand blogs, be they Huffington Post or the Longmont Urban Hens Coalition, as there is in the front section of any daily broadsheet. Don't point your finger at the blogs. It was Craigslist, yo. Slam dunk. Y'see, there used to be these dense, fine-print pages in the back of the paper. Places where people used cute and clever language to sell Adult Services in such a way that everyone knew what was for sale, yet neither the newspaper nor the local morality squad seemed to care. Places where people looked when they lost their glasses at the Northwest Leisure Centre. Places where the people told each other stories: Wedding dress, only worn twice. $50 obo. Or, Will pay cash for lawnmower and someone to push it by end of weekend. That kind of thing. People used to pay for the privelige of selling their own and buying someone else's junk. It used to mean something. If you wanted to get rid of your ski boots in July, you had to think about. You had to write a letter, or at least make a phone call. You had to get someone else involved. You had to be a committed seller. These days, jeez. There's a million pieces of crap for sale on the Internet, and if you actually want to do someone the solid of buying their three-drawer Creamsicle orange dresser for $45, you've gotta spend a week emailing and calling them before they agree to sell it to you. And it's lucky for you that your parents raised you to be a halfway decent person who calls ahead before showing up on someone's door to pick up the piece of furniture, because in the three hours between agreeing to sell you the item and the agreed-upon-by-both-parties-time of pick-up, the lousy zeke has up and sold it to someone else. Without so much of a solid as calling to let you know.
Speaking of solids, Gentleman Reg's new album is called Jet Black. Reg's first couple of albums came out on the lovely and missed Three Gut label. Three Gut was home to some of the early 00s' finest Canadian music like Royal City, Jim Guthrie and Cuff the Duke. I reviewed Reg's debut, Make Me Pretty, for No Depression back in the day when No Depression was a print mag and I was a guy who wrote for print money.
mp3: "You Can't Get It Back" by Gentleman Reg