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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Media meltdown

One of the more memorable -- and incomprehensible -- lines from the Vietnam War was uttered by a military officer: "we had to destroy the village to save it." Apparently newspaper owners and publishers have taken it to heart.

The news just keep getting worse, particularly at everyone's favorite local punching bag, the Boston Globe. Dan Kennedy confirms the Globe is shutting down City Weekly and disemboweling North West. Adam Reilly utters what no one dares speak -- what happens if fewer than 50 take buyouts, naming names of possible layoff victims.

And that's just Boston, Reading Romensesko is like reading a roll call of doom: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, Providence, San Antonio. And that was just yesterday. Even the vaunted and venerable Associated Press is vulnerable.

There's also some handwringing that journalists are once again being remarkably self-centered -- after all lots of people are losing their jobs. But there is something different at play here.

Newspapers play an important role in attempting to keep government and politicians honest. Losing the watchdogs is a frightening prospect. Bloggers like me cannot come close to fill the gap. Hey, I have a full-time job (thankfully) that pays the bills, this is just fun!

The economic model that has driven the media for most of its existence is clearly changing. Maybe the media moguls think they really need to destroy the village in order to save it.

But the collateral damage -- the lost of oversight and transparency -- is frightening to tally.

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