In reading former journalist Tom Zoellner's new book of essays, The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America, I was particularly struck by his nostalgic ponderings of print journalism, small town newspapers, and his job at the Appleton Post-Crescent. Small town print newspapers like the Post-Crescent or the Alton Telegraph are certainly in danger of going under, especially when big city newspapers like the Denver Post, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times are facing dire times as well. And it doesn't help that beyond the fading interest in buying and reading a daily print paper among the general population, the large scale papers are being gutted and bled dry by soul sucking hedge funds such as Alden Capital, which are run by shallow soulless business vampires like Randall Smith and his next generation clone Heath Freeman. These men are determined to almost singlehandedly destroy print journalism and daily papers in the United States even if the market doesn't decide to and if many readers still want a daily paper.
So, daily newspapers, which have long been the life blood of an educated electorate, need a savior. For, even though many people choose TV news or random blogs, remember that all the information contained in an hour-long TV show can be found on a single page of a newspaper, and all those bloggers still check the daily papers like the New York Times before logging on to share their view. Yes, print journalism and small town papers need a sugar-daddy, like Jeff Bezos has done for the Washington Post , local philanthropist Paul Huntsmen did for the Salt Lake Tribune, eventually turning it to a non-profit, and Glen Taylor did with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There are enough billionaires who must have, at one time, enjoyed a print paper with their cup of coffee, or at least recall watching their parents and grandparents enjoy that. Surely, they could find it in their hearts and conscience to park some of their assets in newspapers like the Denver Post or St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Even if the papers don't make money, they could provide a valuable service in terms of information, culture, .... and jobs for goodness sake.
So, come billionaires, whattaya say? Do it for the little guy. Save the newspapers.