Former L.A. Times editor and reporter Bob Baker posts at his Newsthinking website that newspaper journalists shouldn't accept their obsolescence quietly. Excerpt:
If newspapers are going to die, as most "smart" people seem to think, let's go down swinging. Let's go down like the Texans at the Alamo. Let's publish the best, most interesting, most audacious stories we can, on our own terms. Let's not be businessmen. Let's be artists. Let's put our art--the stories we love to write, edit and publish--on the market and see who buys it.
Let's be all the things we love to read. Let's astonish our audience. Let's stop asking our readers what they want. Let's remember, as Frank Capra, the great director, once said, that "the audience doesn't know what it wants--until it sees it."
Today and tomorrow, don't worry about the fate of the industry. You can't change that. Think about, instead, a Bill Murray summer-camp movie called "Meatballs," in which he was counseling a group of boys who were going to compete against another, far more privileged camp. The night before, Murray's character gives the kids a pep talk:
"Even if we play so far above our heads that our noses bleed for a week to 10 days; even if God in Heaven above points his hand at our side of the field; even if every man, woman and child joined hands together and prayed for us to win, it just wouldn't MATTER because all the really good-looking girls would still go out with the guys from Mohawk because they've got all the money! It just doesn't MATTER if we win or if we lose. It just doesn't MATTER."
In the same vein, it doesn't matter if our newspapers make 15% profit or 30% profit. It doesn't matter what Wall Street says. It doesn't matter if circulation goes up or down. All that matters is, like the Texans at the Alamo, you fight as hard as you can as long as you can. All that matters is: What did you to do today to get better? What did you learn? What did you teach? What did you promise yourself you'd do better next time? There is vastly more honor in answering those questions than in trying to convert an institution steeped in unpredictable magic into a "successful" consumer product.