The last to go under is the Idaho Statesman. Oh, sure. The editor wrote the remaining readers and explained it would remain online, be printed a few days a week, and mailed versus delivered. Less is more, he wrote. You can still find puzzles on the website! Of course, you can find puzzles online for free and without a pricey Statesman subscription. Most of the editorials written by the captains going down with their ships are like a form letter. Every other sinking paper in the chain has the same language.
When the paper in Twin Falls made a similar decision, I wasn’t surprised. Warren Buffett had backed out of the parent company, calling investment in Lee Enterprises a bad bet. Current management should be given a medal for heroism. The local publisher didn’t create the situation. He was the cavalry but he wasn’t called upon until all was lost.
I grew up reading newspapers. I still miss being at a coffee counter and thumbing through the pages while waiting for breakfast. But I noted something at the office. When my copy was delivered, my younger coworkers wouldn’t pick it up. They would step over it and leave it behind. They also believe news should be free as if people producing it shouldn’t make a living.
You often hear the Internet and Craigslist blamed for the demise of newspapers, however. The late Steve Hartgen and I had a conversation about another cause. I had the same discussion with the late David Schoumacher, who worked at a paper before becoming a CBS news correspondent. Hartgen had been the publisher of the paper in Twin Falls. Editors didn’t like many of their readers. The so-called journalists were mostly liberal activists, and they sneered at customers who didn’t buy into a worldview editors claimed was a self-evident truth. I can be insulted for free. Why would I pay for abuse?