December 16, 2008, 5:16 pm

I’ll blog some philosophy once I figure out what to write about, but my muse is buried under grading. 

Start with a car, and take away everything that isn’t an incubator.”  It’s like philanthropic steampunk!  That saves babies!

Ezra Klein argues that the likely death of newspapers is not a bad thing:

The problem for the newspapers is that even as they die off, most consumers are in fact in a better position. There may be fewer outlets today, but I have access to a lot more news products than I did 10 years ago. So do most people. If the Baltimore Sun cuts much of its staff, but the people in Baltimore now have the LA Times and the New York Times and the Huffington Post, they have more news, not less. There will be no push to save journalism because only journalists believe it to be dying.

I disagree.  There will be plenty of international news, and no dearth of journalist-pundits idly hoping that Santa brings them a nice scandal to warm their hearths.  But there won’t be solid coverage of local news; and there won’t be local perspectives on the national news.    (And, since the foreign bureaus as I understand it are first to go/already gone, there will be a dearth of perspective.)  

David Simon unsurprisingly disagrees, too.  Everyone should read this; it’s older, but great.  And I’ll quote my favorite anecdote from the piece, because it demonstrates not just how well a good local reporter knows his city, but how much he loved it.  His city:

Rebecca is telling us that we have to start writing, that the piece needs to be early if it has any chance at the Sunday front. I go back to the newsroom, where a full take of Carter’s history in foster care, along with careful, annotated notes from Canzian, greets me. I leave Zorzi on the street, telling him we have to locate the mother, that the piece can’t run without quotes from the woman who brought Dontay Carter into the world. He calls every area hospital. He asks for a computer check on ambo runs for burn victims going back weeks. He checks with the patrolmen working the neighborhood where she’s last seen. Nothing.

Eventually, he remembers that the city fire department had started billing for ambulance runs. The communications unit has no record of ambo calls for service going back more than a few weeks, but did the billing unit, by chance, keep records for longer?

He pulls a name and an address on Lennox Street.

“How the hell did you find me?” asks the mother as Zorzi comes through her door, notepad and pen akimbo.

“We got the mother,” I tell Rebecca minutes later, doing my best to make it sound inevitable. We were Baltimore’s newspaper, and we were writing about a kid who had terrorized Baltimore. And that kid had a mother. In Baltimore. Of course we got her.


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