As newspapers shutter across the country, we’ve heard arguments for their survival and existence. Defenders of the newsprint say newspapers add to and aid our democracy. Do they? An interesting take from Jack Shafer of Slate.
Far from being yahoos, the Americans who thumbed their noses at newspapers in the Pew poll have a point. Even an excellent newspaper carries only a few articles each day that could honestly be said to nurture the democratic way. Car bomb in Pakistan? Drug war in Mexico? Flood in North Dakota? Murder in the suburbs? Great places to get Thai food after midnight? A review of the Britney Spears concert? New ideas on how to serve leftover turkey? The sports scores? The stock report? Few of these stories are likely to supercharge the democratic impulse.
One thing is clear: Americans are voting with their wallets and news habits. They have no use for newspapers, whether or not it makes the U.S. a better democracy.