The problem with print.

Friday, September 21st, 2007

I still remember the smell of oily, non-soy-based ink and huge rolls of newsprint down by the loading docks at The Columbus Dispatch. When I first got to see the presses roll, with semi-cylindrical plates poured as liquid metal into forms cast from linotype-set chases, well, that was magic.

It felt like the news was this unstoppable force, like a freight train, loud, powerful, smelly, indomitable. Get the heck out of the way, here comes the news.

And in their own way, television news opens of the 1970s imitated that “unstoppable force” effect with thundering news opens, dramatic cuts of video, and galloping symphonies. Out of the way, here comes television news.

Barry Diller interviewed by Lloyd Grove, via Romanesko:

“I don’t think there are easy solutions [for newspapers]. It’s hard when you use the word newspaper. If you mean news-gathering, or just news, take the paper off, then I’m very hopeful. …The problem for print is print. I mean, it’s paper, its current distribution, and it’s going to be supplanted by other paths. So I’m optimistic about the paths but you certainly can’t be optimistic if you’re running a newspaper.”

The best image I can come up with now is the absolutely silent cascade of flickering lights on an internet router. LEDs in red, gold, and green, blink-a-blink-blink. Maybe a soft clatter of a keyboard here or there, or the sounds of two thumbs texting.

Here comes news on little cats’ feet.

I guess I got over my romance with newsprint after driving through Canadian forest-land being stripped to feed those thundering presses.