The first part deals with the internet and traditional literature, the second focus more on print journalism. As always (it seems) with Clay, this is a long article. Until you’re done with it. At which point you wish it had been longer.
One of the things that I’ve noticed with criticisms of the Internet is that very often they’re displaced criticisms of television. That there are a lot of people, Nick Carr especially is a recent addition to the canon, wringing their hands over the end of literary reading. And they’re laying that at the foot of the Internet. It seems to me, in fact, from the historical record, that the idea of literary reading as a sort of broad and normal activity was done in by television, and it was done in forty years ago.
So my nightmare is that every city with less than a quarter of a million people in it sees its only daily newspaper vanish. And that a good portion of those cities turn to 1950s-style, you know, 1950s New Orleans-style corruption. Which is to say because there’s no one watching, no one will be held accountable. So L.A. will be fine. Chicago will be fine, New York will be fine. You know, you can imagine Wichita just getting hijacked by its own city council. And it will take some time, as it took some time during the print journalism days to move from yellow journalism into some idea of serious reporting that isn’t beholden enough to the powers that be to be swayed. I don’t think that this is an easy transition at all.