Several of my newspaper colleagues, and some J- school teachers and historians I know, consider newspapers are past their prime, dinosaurs of the past in a digital age, and wonder why they haven’t gone that way, too.
Kentuckians had a good example of why over this past week.
The Speaker of the Kentucky House, after days of swearing “No Way!” resigned suddenly, just four days after the Courier-Journal published a story that he had engaged in sexual harassment of his staff. Long time statehouse reporters were stunned. This is the Kentucky equivalent of the Speaker of Congress (3rd in line for the Presidency) doing the same...which has also happened because the media had published stories neither party wanted published.
Who does hold public officials, and our political parties accountable? The Press, and—let me say it as a long time broadcast journalist, mainly the print media. (Is Watergate so far away in our recent memory?)
The same week the C-J did all of us a public service, I was about to write a blog praising Paul Prather and Tom Eblen, columnists for our Herald-Leader.
Mr. Prather’s weekly column on religion should be must reading for any of us who consider ourselves “religious," and not just “Christians.” He has reminded me of lessons from my early Sunday School, and put them in today’s context in a marvelous way, illuminating and down-to-earth. You do NOT have to agree to come away from reading him with a sense of reaffirmation of the good that most of us aspire to, whether we achieve it in our daily lives or not.
Tom’s recent column made more sense, for me, of the “supply side” economics arguments, which is at the heart of many a current issue in Washington that affects our daily lives...and that also includes burning issues here; the pension argument, proposals for overhauling Kentucky’s antiquated tax code (as well as the nation’s,) and more. Economics may be “the dismal science” but it pervades many issues in DC and Frankfort, and his column was a real service to any of us who want to be good citizens and take part in our civic life.
I hear much talk that to save our newspapers they must come up with a new, modern “business plan.” No, they must find a way to continue their traditional role of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.” This the C-J and H-L have just done, and we are all the better for it.
I'm just sayin'...