David Byrne on the Death of Newspapers: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Cuba
Talking Heads frontman, and one of the last intellectual types to ever have had a major-label music contract, David Byrne was in Miami barely a week ago, so maybe it's fitting he has the death of newspapers on his mind. Plus, as a former big-label musician, he has firsthand experience with another slowly dying industry, so he took to his blog to imagine an America without newspapers as we know them, in a post titled "No More News."
I've been trying to imagine what this country would be like without a serious news source. Like Cuba with only Granma, the organ of the party -- that and bootleg satellite TV broadcasts of American Idol.
Byrne theorizes that soon we'll have only two national papers doing in-depth reporting -- the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal -- and even they won't be doing a particularly good job. True, there will be Internet sources, but they'll simply provide a constant stream of human interest stories, sports highlights, secondhand information, and gossip (hey, sounds familiar). Thus the well-informed citizenry needed for democracy will diminish and we might find ourselves living in some sort of oppressive state.
There are still reasons to be cheerful. We might like to think of life in an oppressive regime as sheer misery, but from what I can tell, it's rarely viewed that way. Life goes on and people make do with what they have, and they fall in love and get drunk and sing and dance. It takes a lot -- a whole lot -- to bring them to the flash point, like what just happened in Greece. Mostly, people adapt to the way things are -- so to feel miserable about it is fruitless. And that's what we will do when there are only two serious newspapers left in the USA.
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