We Don’t Need Intellectual Chaperones
Although I’m sympathetic to dislike of the e-reader technology that is displacing print media, it is most definitely not for the reason that Dan Bloom enunciates:
Well, be careful what you wish for. Frankenpapers might turn out to be another turn in the screw that seals the decline of the republic. Think about it. With no agreed-upon national consensus, on political, economic, cultural and religious issues, delivered in the past by a team of unaffiliated and diverse print newspapers and magazines, America might become a deeply divided republic of 500-plus news channels and screens.
Where once it was possible to have a national discussion delivered carefully and judiciously by the plodding print media, the future might turn out to be a national shouting match, a digital free-for-all. Some pundits say we are already there.
Dictatorships typically have limited “news channels and screens” for a reason, and the slow death of the mainstream filters that Bloom laments has less to do with the emergence of new technologies, in my opinion, than in readers distrust that they’re getting the objective product for which they thought they were paying and advertisers’ distrust that their reach is as substantial as asserted. With a great variety of news sources, readers should find it relatively easy to find, and judge, opposing views.
Whether readers will seek that balance or compare their sources adequately is another matter, having more to do with education and cultural priorities. On developments in those areas, I’m more concerned.