Lileks is always a good read, but seldom intersects the main topics of interest here. But when he's not amusing the blogosphere, he writes for a company that smears pigment onto mashed trees on a daily basis, and in yesterday's Bleat he reflects on the future of the newspaper medium:
A while ago I noted that I had ceased to rely on my paper for international and national news. The web's competitive advantage is overwhelming. Now I turn straight to the Metro section, because the web can't yet match the resources and reach of a newspaper. If I were king of the forest, I'd turn the A section into the Metro section.... Newspapers to me no longer look like great sober edifaces inscribing the details of history as the parade clatters past. They just look like group blogs. Without the honest admission of bias. I turn to the daily paper for the stories so elemental that bias has no place - fires, accidents, murders, jabberings of local officials, etc.... Newspapers have one great strength: proximity. I think they'll realize this eventually. TV covers the world; radio is the new editorial page; the internet is both times ten. The future of newspapers will be intensely local.
This of course fits right into Jeff Jarvis' notion of the 'hyperlocal' future. But it also clicks with me as a (nearly) erstwhile reader of newspapers:
I seldom bother with the A section anymore. My wife is likely sick of hearing 'Oh, yeah, I saw that on the net yesterday'. The classifieds began going straight to recycle a long time ago, nearly as far back the business and technology sections died above the ears. I'm now experimenting with replacing the local coverage with Topix' index for Redwood City, my home town. The last frontier is getting the necessary comics into a decent interface.
Then the paper subscription will end with the next renewal, depriving you all of my occasional rants at the Merc's lame Valley coverage. But it will go with a more than a little twinge, in spite of nearly two decades of new media mongering. A newspaper has been an icon of intent to engage with the world, the community, with business and politics, and often a representation of one's stance. But that's been hollowed out, bit by bit, and there's little more left than a symbolic husk. The substance has gone elsewhere. The newspaper never transformed the computer into a tablet or e-paper to be read over the morning coffee, instead the Internet has swallowed the newspaper whole.