Friday, February 27, 2009

The Rocky Mountain News Closes: An Op-Ed By A Crusty Blogger Looking Toward the Future

And so it goes. I know newspapers are collapsing all over the country, and that we've known that the industry has been suffering for some time now. But when a large newspaper in your town folds with barely any notice, it is a huge and dramatic event. Jobs are lost, routines completely disrupted, and a way of life gone. However, the newspaper's across the country that have folded and are about to fold are indicative of something at hand that is much bigger.

The printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg around 1439. I think it's safe to say that some enterprising individuals made the first newspaper around that time and distributed it to all who could read. So newspapers have been around in various forms for the last 570 years! That's over half a millennium. What a run it's been. Think of how many cups of coffee have been drunk, how many pages crinkled and rubbed between inky fingertips, how many fists pounded on kitchen tables after reading an article, how many crossword puzzles left incomplete, how many comics that generated a laugh. Oh, a heck of a lot. Well, it was a good run.

Now, I'm not ready to put the nail in the coffin of newspapers yet. They must adapt or disappear. I do think that we've had a good thing with newspapers for the last 570 years, but that something new and fresh must come about to rock us out of our complacency, to challenge the way we think, and to allow us to progress as a society. What'll eventually replace the newspaper as we know it today? I have no idea. What I do know is that the future is exciting and the medium I am using now to communicate with y'all is just the beginning.

A blog is not perfect and I believe that most blogs need a bit more journalistic integrity (me included) than we're seeing today. But it's a medium in its infancy and as with anything it will evolve (or perish). I surmise that the first newspapers were probably just rants on whatever topic put a burr in the author's saddle. And I guess that the first newspapers were created and read only by the wealthy. Blogs on the other hand are the great equalizer, a dose of democracy put in the hand's of anybody who has access to an Internet connection (free at the public libraries). I can fire up the series of tubes, surf the Google, and read about how the Iraq war is impacting a family in Iraq. I can't get that kind of perspective in any newspaper, with men and women sitting in the safety of their ivory towers musing on a war thousands of miles away (I think in Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell brought this up about journalists who write about war without having stepped foot on the battlefield. I'd like to think that Orwell would have had an iPhone and posted real-time notes from the trenches on his battle with the Spanish Fascists). Anyway the point is that I can get observations on a topic, undistilled and unfiltered by commercial interests, that is important to me, from somebody half a world away. To this blogger, that is completely mind-blowing and awesome.

There's going going to be a lot of grieving and pain at the loss of the old and hope and growing pains with the new. But I think we'll come out alright in the end. Don't you?

So I'll leave it at that. Rest in peace Rocky Mountain News. We'll miss you.

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Wishful Thinking

*Before adding PV, wind, or solar thermal to your residential or commercial structure, the first step is to analyze this structure's energy consumption through a professional energy audit. I'd like to see some public education on the importance of an energy audit for any structure. Remember Smokey the Bear's forest fire shtick drilled into our heads over the last few decades? How about something like, "Henry the House" desperately wanting to know how much energy he consumes and wastes throughout the day?

*With over 300 sunny days a year on the Front Range is it too much to ask for solar PV and thermal modules on every residential and commercial unit (after an energy audit of course)?

*How about affordable plug-in electric cars that go more than 100 miles on a charge with PV and wind powered recharging stations?

*Dreaming of companies large and small adopting business sustainability practices to maximize profits, reduce their carbon footprint, and enhance the lives of their employees and the communities that surround them.


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