I have a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Boston University. I worked as a weekly and daily newspaper for seven years after graduation. I have print subscriptions to Wired, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated and to my local newspaper, The Hartford Courant.
So I have an obvious bias for the old print media of newspapers and magazines.
But in 2011, the old media proved its worth. Not just to me during the unprecedented Nor’easter that cut my power for over eleven days, but also in continuing to do the kind of investigative journalism that needs to be kept alive, in some form or another.
First, the Courant was the only source of news available in the days after the power outage hit my area of New England. The tree damage was so bad in my neighborhood that those with chain saws banded together and cut a path in the street so cars could get in and out. And yet, the next day, my newspaper was delivered at the end of my driveway. I had no access to the internet, and only intermittent radio reception, but I did have a full report on the storm in the Courant. Over the next eleven days, my delivery person didn’t miss a single day. The Courant was my window into the larger story of the storm. They researched and hit Connecticut Light & Power hard for their reaction to the storm, kept everyone updated on when power could be restored, and provided interviews with others in my situation. If I were in charge of the Pulitzer Prizes next April, this coverage would be at the top of my list.
On a national level, it was another local daily newspaper, the Patriot News, and a crime reporter, Sara Ganim, who first broke the story of the investigation of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and the seeming indifference of those in charge to the eye-witness report of Sandusky allegedly raping a young boy. Without Ganim’s persistent and careful reporting, this important story wouldn’t have made it to the national level.
Of course, old media had one huge black mark, the phone-hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s now-defunct News of the World. Yet the best reporting I read on the scandal was in several articles in Vanity Fair, particularly in the June 2011 issue. Each issue that lands in my mailbox brings my attention I never expected to find, such as “Tracking the Most Destructive Computer Virus Yet,” in the April issue. I also read with sadness Christopher Hitchens’ refusal to play to script as he struggled with the cancer that eventually killed him.
And, of course, I read Wired, my favorite article being one about the infamous blackguards and con men of years past. Not a subject I expected to find in a tech magazine.
What all these articles have in common is that I’d have never found on them on the web because I wouldn’t have searched for them, as I didn’t know they existed. But getting the print versions each month allowed me time to flip through it all and find each gem.
I don’t know what I’d do without internet news sources. News sites are the very first I check when I first go online in the morning for breaking news and sports scores. And, of course, it’s now provided me with a new age journalism career, with GeekDad, GeekMom and the upcoming GeekMom book. But I hope even if print disappears, that we don’t lose the longer investigative articles, the full-time local reporters determined to hold institutions to the same standards of justice, and the unique voices like Hitchens.