The following quest editorial is by Robert Jump, editor of Coquille-Today.com, a fellow journalist and friend of MorinvilleNews.com.

“The world’s moved on since then.”

I liked the phrase and what it implied the first time I read it. I believe the words were uttered by the main character Roland Deschain, a gunslinger, in one of Stephen King’s novels in the Dark Tower series. Deschain, equipped with a Colt Peacemaker, is transported somehow to a King envisioned Twilight Zone and utters the phrase in that context.

But the world, and those who populate it, really sort of work that way. The world revolves and unless there’s an earthquake or asteroid strike large enough to disrupt that rotation it just continues on as it always has. People don’t. People get stuck.

Once they learn something, or think they learn something, whether it’s a process for making a product or using a product, whatever the case may be, it’s over for people. For people, that process, or food, or experience, has jaded them for life and that particular thing, whatever it may be, is relegated in their minds to remain unchanging for eternity. It’s hardwired into people even though they consciously know it isn’t true.

Bill was a typesetter. He started in the newspaper business back in the time when they poured hot lead to produce type, and he had the scars on his arms to prove it. He went from that to movable type, and from that to linotype machines. When I met Bill, closing in on 70 years of age, he was laying up newspaper pages with laser printed gangs of waxed copy and huge templates with a page dummy to go by. Working with a single edged razor blade, which was constantly hidden in his mouth and appeared only when he needed to trim a gang, he was the fastest page layup person I’ve ever known.

I used to enjoy watching him work after newsroom deadline as he raced to get the last few pages finished and ready for the camera to shoot to make a negative. But the world moved on and soon things were no longer done that way. Pagination came into being and while pages were still waxed together, the type was coming out on full sheets like tiles from the laser printers and merely needed to be stuck to the page.

Bill retired right after pagination came into vogue. Had he not, he would have seen his position replaced entirely by a machine when image setters came along. No more paper in newspaper production other than what was sold on the street or delivered to the thousands of homes and businesses it reached each day. Production rooms downsized and people got comfortable once again.

“But the world’s moved on since then.”

The Internet was a brand new thing back in those days almost 20 years ago. Bill and I had talked about what we thought it would mean for the future. We knew it would change the way people got their information, but comfortable in our professions, in what we knew and what we had learned, we certainly never saw a time when the Internet would threaten journalism itself.

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission [USA] is pondering ways to help journalism survive. They’ve talked about taxing the Internet, taxing electronic devices people use to read news over the Internet, and even taxing web sites themselves. Can you imagine government helping journalism? If they give journalism the same help they’ve given others, the kind of help that makes those being helped beholding to government for a paycheck, one can only assume like results: skewed.
There will be those that drag their feet kicking and screaming into the future and they will beg the government to save a patient that has been dying for the past 20 years. When that happens, you can rest assured it will be about money and won’t have a damn thing to do with journalism. It will have everything to do with printing presses, newsprint producers, and labor unions.

This is evolution folks. This is an industry that has always relied on paper and ink to produce a product, evolving within a society and world that are becoming paperless. Journalism doesn’t need government intervention to survive; it needs those committed to it to remain so.

– Robert Jump
Editor Coquille-Today.com

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