Late Edition


As I write this it is 7:37 a.m., and I’ve just finished reading the morning paper. I started at 7:31 a.m. And I’m no speed reader. Our city’s paper, the Hartford Courant, once arguably one of the better dailies in the nation, has cut more than half its staff in the past few years. Recently it announced the departure of both editor and managing editor—and dissolved the latter job altogether. The paper continues to shed weight like a contestant on The Biggest Loser. There’s almost no national news; cultural reportage is piped in from Chicago and L.A.; the “Living” section consists of tidbits about celebrities, cute dog photos sent in by readers, a weather map, and five pages of obituaries.

The death throes of newspapers are harder to watch for knowing that the wound was self-inflicted. A decision was made to offer free content via a revolutionary new technology, and figure out how to pay for it later. Well, later is now, and as Frank Rich observed in the May 10 New York Times, they still haven’t figured it out. Titling his column “The American Press on Suicide Watch,” Rich sounded the alarm. “We can’t know what is happening behind closed doors at corrupt, hard-to-penetrate institutions in Washington or Wall Street,” he wrote, “unless teams of reporters armed with the appropriate technical expertise and...

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About the Author

Rand Richards Cooper is Commonweal's contributing editor.