Is the death of the newspaper REALLY that bad?


Today, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer folds, and not in the way it's always folded (a tired joke in the newspaper industry, I'm sure). It will be an online-only publication from now on.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune had to file for bankruptcy earlier this year. Locally, the Capital Times was pared down into a shadow of its former self. The LaCrosse Tribune and now the Wisconsin State Journal have both switched to narrow, thinner editions.

I write for a paper (had you heard? was my self-promotion not loud enough? if not, please check out the links in the upper-right hand corner of this page); I don't want the journalism industry to fail. I don't want blogger schmoes (ahem) and 24-hour cable news to be the sole purveyors of what's happening in the world. They've got tinted glasses that I don't have an interest in looking through.

So I ask this question with all the necessary sensitivity and self-interest: is it that bad if newspapers stop being newspapers?

There's the comic analysis that would tell you that there's no futuristic movie or TV show that shows people reading newspapers. They've all got tablet computers or holographic heads-up displays in their self-piloted Tom Cruise-mobiles. But why shouldn't that be a goal?

Yeah, print is nice. I'm a librarian. I know that sooner or later, I'll be the guy reciting "First they came...", and books will turn into an electronic medium only. Hello, Kindle 2.0?

Isn't that just nostalgia, though? Don't you think people said that telephone would be infinitely worse than telegraph? Touch-tone phones worse than rotary dial? Ashley Tisdale's new nose worse than her old one? You bet they did! (gotta move on past the HSM reference) But I'm sure I'm not alone in not wishing for a return to waiting 5 seconds to dial the first 1 after the 9 in 911.

Less paper will be used. You can't really argue with that. I'd like to think that bailing out the newspapers would be a better expenditure of money than bailing out the internal combustion engine industry, but the fact remains that cars maintain relevance. Newspapers...well, newspapers have been much less than relevant in recent years. Even the relevant ones publish their content online almost simultaneously with the print edition.

My sticking points are A) the loss of jobs, and B) the threat this decline poses to journalism at large. Maybe that's the bailout I want; save the jobs of good journalists around the country, so that people can continue to have solid knowledge and updates on the real world at their fingertips.

Even if their fingertips stay clean in the process. I was a paperboy too, you know, and I hated newsprint.

ILLin' like a villain: Old acquaintances edition

Welcome back to ILLin' like a villain, which took some well-deserved time off for the holidays. Unfortunately, the silly requests have tapered off a bit, so I'll have to make hay with these!

The Book of Ceremonial Magic: The Secret Tradition in Goetia
by Arthur Edward Waite

-I was sure I read the subtitle as "The Secret Tradition in Goetta," which would have been a decidedly non-magical tome. ::shudder::

Alaska Seafood Industry Room and Board Job Guide
by Kwasi Malezi

-Not sure what's more interesting about this request: that the inmates don't have cable and yet are drawn to the Deadliest Catch mystique, or that the author (by virtue of his name alone) appears to be African. I've never seen an African person on Deadliest Catch.

The Guide to Becoming the Sensuous Black Woman
by Miss T.

-I betcha I know what that 'T' stands for... Did I mention that I work in an all-male facility?

A Rookie's Guide to Buying or Selling a Pool Table
by Mose Duane

-Look for a request next week for the companion volume, "And Cramming It Into a 9'x12'."

ILLin' like a villain, subconscious Shakespeare edition

I just realized why I was getting the "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" soliliquy from Macbeth stuck in my head for the last week or two. Two men, whose last names are Pace and Petty, were adjacent in the Interlibrary Loan file until today.

Earthworms Buyer's Guide and Directory, by Patrick H. Shields (Earthworm Guy is back!)

Forbidden Knowledge, by Stephen K. Donaldson (No. You can't have it.)

How to Build a 1933-34 Ford Street Rod, by Jay Storer (Pretty sure the cells aren't big enough for that, but hey.)

And a late addition, just turned in, verbatim as on the slip:

High, by Brain O'Dea (Now, I'd never heard of Brian O'Dea before, so it is in fact a legit book, but look at the layering of this silliness. The title is High; the erroneously-spelled first name is Brain [as in, this is your brain on drugs]; and the last name is O'Dea. O'DEA. D.E.A. You can't make this stuff up, people!)

ILLin' like a villain: Zwarte Piet edition

In an unblinkingly colonial and insensitive tradition, the Dutch believe that St. Nick travels with a young black companion named (uncreatively) Black Peter. St. Nick gets the credit for the goodies, Peter carries the switch by which the bad kids will be punished in their sleep.

Growing up with this as their childhood tradition is why the Dutch need pot and hookers.

Happy St. Nick's! Put out your shoes, and settle in barefoot for this week's brief glimpse into the interlibrary loan habits of Wisconsin's finest inmates.

Paper Pop Up, by Dorothy Wood. (Forget the actual content of the book. These jokes write themselves, kids.)

Someone Else's Puddin', by Samuel Hair. (The hip-hop community has officially run out of slang.)

Bodyslick, by John Sibley (Urban lit authors have officially run out of material. Take some time, read the description. I'll wait here. Tell me if you could ever take this book seriously.)

ILLin' like a villain, jive turkey edition

Written on Wednesday, posted to the FUUUUUTUUUUUURRRRRRE! Thus, it's brief. The time machine has a weight limit.

Untitled Technothriller, by Herold [sic] Coyle (Pretty sure this turned out to be They Are Soldiers, but one would think that a savvy reader might have scrutinized this incomplete Bowker Books in Print listing a little more closely.)

Dream Garages, by Kris Palmer (Guys will fantasize about anything in here.)

Don't Blame It on Rio: The Real Reason Men Go to Brazil for Sex, by Jewel Woods (Answer: It's the sex.)

ILLin' like a villain

Herein you will find a new Friday feature on RTWNMYP (gotta love that initialism). Very simply, it will be a recounting of some of the more interesting Interlibrary Loan requests received in the preceding week. It might not always be laugh-out-loud funny, but it should be fairly amusing. I'll go back a couple weeks just to give you a good first taste.

Pot Pies: Yumminess in a Dish (Can't really argue with the concept, I guess.)

Raising Earthworms for Profit (Step 1: Gather earthworms. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit!)

Persimmons: And Other Lesbian Erotica (Sadly, this title doesn't exist. Poor guy.)

How to Potty Train Your Parrot in 14 Days (This book, amazingly, does exist.)

Lew Burke's Dog Training (Patron's note: "I'm not really sure. I believe it deals with social behavior though". As opposed to, say, management or accounting.)

Thong on Fire (Coming soon to Masterpiece Theater.)