The newspapers are disappearing. Some are getting thin and blank like fashion models. They report on sports and the city council, then surrender to pages of adverts and coupons. Other papers get sold overnight to petroleum companies, traveling circuses, or no one. They disappear like people the governments kidnap.
Some newspapers are going "online," which in this case seems to be a euphemism. Anyway, going online doesn't quite work. They post the stupid stories, the reporters write blogs instead of news-stories, and you can't spill coffee on the stories, pick them up, and see a brown ring on top of words. Blogging isn't reporting: this just in from the news-desk.
Next, I suppose, will come micro-newspapers--3 inches by 6 inches. The reporters will write in haiku:
Stock market plummets.
White heron flies in local mist.
Janvier is champ.
-- Or: soon will there be nanonewspapers, which you stick in your ear?
I always liked newspapers, even when they missed the big stories and kissed the asses of power. Newspaper feels good in the hands, photos on paper are fun, headlines are less thrilling online, and oh, my, those great newsprint cartoons--like Out Our Way. But this is no time for nostalgia and elegies.
Still, there they go, the newspapers, slipping into accounting's red ink. I think of the reporters, who will have no medium through which to report, predictions of the Online Oracles notwithstanding. I think of people lifting the two rectangles of an open newspaper and putting their faces in the space between rectangles to read, to lose their vision in news.
I recall a riddle from childhood: "What is black and white and red [read] all over?"