I’d like to see the newspaper industry come together for one week — that’s about all it would take — and have a news blackout.
For one whole week, newspapers all across the country, dailies and weeklies, corporate-owned, independents, alt-weeklies, big metros would do no independent reporting of the news.
The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Idaho Statesman, The Kuna Melba News — all of us, no reporting.
Let’s just see what happens. Websites would go dark. The Associated Press content would go down by 80 percent. Local TV newscasts would have nothing to report on except for press releases from police departments.
You know who the big winners would be? Rick Lantz, Scott Dorval and Vin Crosby. That’s because the weather would get 20 minutes of air time each night instead of 10. The other 10 minutes would be devoted to Boise State football.
City governments everywhere, knowing that no one is watching them, would vote to give themselves raises or try to get $5 million for a new city hall and swimming pool. State legislators would take housing and per diem allowances and sleep at their mom and dad’s house. In the midst of a recession and high unemployment, state agencies would give out $90,000 in bonuses to state employees. A nonprofit water users association would lend their director $130,000 to buy and redecorate his house.
And then, at the end of the week, it would be the American public, tottering at the bridge railing, yelling, “Please! I want to live again. I want to live again. Please, God, let me live again.”
For those who are curious: Newspapers were the No. 1 choice for those who wanted to know about community events, crime, taxes, local government, arts and culture, social services and development. Newspapers tied with other alternatives in four other subject areas: housing, schools, jobs and local political news. The two news topics where TV came in first? Weather and breaking news.