Ventura County Star political columnist Timm Herdt is moving on after 31 years of writing each Wednesday about state and coast politics, and he offers what he calls one last sermon on the news. Herdt says he is taking another job that precludes him ethically from writing the column anymore, but he doesn't specify what it is. His final column is about the value of newspapers. Here's a sample:
For 12 years as editorial page editor and 19 more after moving to Sacramento to open The Star’s state news bureau, I have sought every week to tell a good story and make a worthwhile point. The goal has always been to provide insight, never to sermonize.
It doesn’t take an insightful person, however, to observe that newspapers don’t play the role they once did. Those day-old box scores I pored over as a kid I now get in real time on my MLB.com At Bat app. My smartphone displays the weather forecast without my asking. Many folks get all their news electronically.
Times change, progress marches forward. And something very valuable is in danger of being left behind. It is not newspapers per se, but rather the connectedness between individuals and their communities.
People who get their news online spend on average a pathetic one minute or less on news websites before moving on to Instagram or whatever. It feeds a shallowness of understanding, which in turn fosters a pervasive cynicism….
Spend 20 minutes each day with a newspaper — not just one, but 20 — and I guarantee you will see things you would otherwise miss. A story about science or medicine or the arts or a neighbor who has done a remarkable thing. A headline that calls you to a story on a subject about which you didn’t know you were interested.