Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Dispatch From The Road To Hell...

A Colorado congressman is catching heat for declaring the death of traditional media - in this case, the Rocky Mountain News newspaper in Denver - and being a wee bit too gleeful about it. Here's the story from the Associated Press:

DENVER (AP) - A Colorado congressman told bloggers that they and other new media are responsible for the demise of the Rocky Mountain News and other traditional news outlets, and that the change is mostly for the better. He later apologized.

Rep. Jared Polis made the remarks last weekend at a Denver event sponsored by Netroots Nation, a progressive political group. The News published its last edition Friday.

"I have to say, that when we say, 'Who killed the Rocky Mountain News?' we are all part of that, we truly are. For better or worse, and I argue that it's mostly for better," the Democrat said.
"Media is dead, and long live new media, which is all of you," he said.

Polis also said at the event that bloggers and citizen journalists carry a new responsibility since they're part of the reason for the demise of other news outlets.

"We can't just kill it and walk away," he said. "It's important for all of us to reach out to some of those ... on the other side and present the progressive point of view," he said.

John Temple, the former publisher and editor of the News, called Polis' remarks misguided and said they were an example of the congressman's poor judgment.

"The Rocky Mountain News was a pioneer in citizen journalism . . . and is an award-winning Internet newspaper," Temple said.

Polis issued a statement Tuesday apologizing "to the entire Rocky Mountain News family and anyone who was offended by my recent remarks."

Polis also had tempered his remarks on Monday, telling The Denver Post that the closure silenced a voice in the state.

"The rise of new media and citizen journalism has hastened the demise of many newspapers, and we, unfortunately, all share in the blame," Polis said.

Polis was elected to his first term in November. An online entrepreneur, he made a fortune selling greeting cards and flowers on the Internet.

I don't disagree with the factual part of what Polis said. I agree with him that traditional media - and especially newspapers - are dying. But to find that to be even a smidgen of good news is appalling to me. I have written many times in this space that newspapers are what keep the rest of the news world in check. Without newspapers, we don't HAVE responsible journalism, because TV and radio and the wires and the internet all primarily get their news from newspapers!

And if you think bloggers can really fill in the gap that the dying newspapers leave behind, then you deserve the quality of news you'll be getting from now on!

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