rss feed | youtube | links | the burning log
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I read Margie Boule's final column in the Oregonian this morning. The editors stuck it on page two of the "O!" section. Not a very grand send-off for someone who has been a staple of the publication for going on 23 years. Still, as Boule points out in the column "as a rule, people's beginnings and endings are untidy affairs. They're so often beyond our control." It's a very sweet, elegant piece. I would add a link here but it has yet to be posted on the Oregonian's website.
Boule and her column helped me out of a goofy jam back in 2006 and I'm still grateful. She somehow discovered a blog post I wrote about a car that was abandoned outside of my house over Super Bowl weekend and whipped-up an article about it. Within a few hours of it going to press, a member of the Portland Police Dept's Neighborhood Response team called me and made arrangements to haul the car off the property. Boule even wrote a second follow-up column about the incident.
Her column will be missed and it's a sad state of affairs for the Oregonian that it has to cut such an iconic veteran journalist from the payroll. I spent a year trying to make it in print journalism back in 2005, as things were taking a turn for the worse, and I admire anyone willing to jump into the fray at this point. With the Oregonian hemorrhaging money and staff at this rate, what will the paper and many other dailies look like in another few years?
While wandering around Powell's a few weeks ago I picked up a copy of The San Francisco Panorama. It's a recent edition in McSweeny's ongoing quarterly literary series. Typically, they're released as books but this edition was presented as a newspaper covering issues and events around the Bay area, in addition to including a usual slew of short fictional stories. The goal of the editors was to create a publication that would appeal to younger readers while demonstrating various methods the newspaper industry might incorporate to save itself.
Ultimately, the project is a mixed bag. While the layout is gorgeous and the comics section is a marvel, there's little that separates the Panorama from the Sunday edition of the Oregonian. They both contain the same long-format news stories and expanded sections. For the first time in a very long while, I sat down with the paper on a Sunday morning a few weeks back. I flipped through the Panorama for about an hour and tossed it aside, vowing to take another look when I got the time. That was three weeks ago and I haven't taken so much as another glance at it.
And that's why the industry is dying, I think. Who has the time to shift through all those stories and all that paper these days, especially with all the easily navigable blogs, news sites and Twitter pages out there? What place is there for newspaper in a world of on-demand journalism? It's easy to romanticize papers but, honestly, I don't know if I would trade my iPhone's news and Twitter apps for a subscription to one anytime soon.
C'est la vie...