Still Need a Reason to Sign the Petition?*

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Why are newspapers important?

At least one tech-savvy member of the US Congress doesn't appear to know the answer to that question. And if our lawmakers don't get it, don't expect the average consumer to understand.

Face it, most people outside the ranks of journalism are clueless about the critical role newspapers play in democracy. Some think this crisis is all about losing paper products. Some say the newspaper industry is going through the same woes that plagued the buggy whip industry at the dawn of the age of the automobile. Some, including U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, even seem to believe the world will be better off without them.

Better off without newspapers?

No kidding. Speaking at a neighborhood event near Denver this past weekend, Polis effectively danced on the grave of the Rocky Mountain News and downplayed the fall of newspapers in general.

Of the recent death of the Rocky, he said "it's mostly for the better."

"Media is dead, and long live the new media ... this is a new age of citizen journalism."

You can listen to it all online.

Still think it's too drastic to unplug newspaper Web sites for a week to raise awareness of the colossal domino effect that losing more newspapers will have on our communities and our democracy?

Or, are you ready to sign the petition?

Wherever you get you news, chances are it began as a newspaper story. That's how this blog post began ... as a story by reporter Karen E. Crummy of The Denver Post.

* UPDATE: Polis laments.

TJ Sullivan

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