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Journalism will survive, no matter the medium

Thursday, June 26, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:42 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mortality. It seems to be the subject of discussion over the last month or so, capped Monday when we learned that George Carlin died. It was the last in a string of deaths giving me pause and causing me to look at my own mortality.

George Carlin. What can I say but another great talent whose death will be noted as a mile mark in our own journeys. We all know the “Seven Dirty Words” and his explanation of the world of politics. At age 71, it seems that his death came too soon.

I grew up listening to Bo Didley doing some of the most incredible things on a guitar. He was honored for his innovation and talent. He taught us that life is fun. At 79, he could still outplay the best of the up-and-comings. He will be missed.

But it was Tim Russert’s that struck a cord with me. Not because of his role in politics and the news. I never met the man, though after the eulogizing by NBC, I think I understood and became closer to him than any of the other celebrity news people. However, it was his age, 58, that struck me. He was only two years my senior, a contemporary, when he passed.

Death has taken the role of sorrow and respect. I am saddened by the death of loved ones and strangers. My studies in graduate school included an in-depth analysis of the eulogy and its importance to the family, friends, community, and in cases like Bo, George and Tim, the world.

In letter to the editor last week, Ted Farnen wrote about the future of this paper, suggesting that the printed word has gotten old and predicting the Missourian’s possible death if allowed to become a weekly publication. On Saturday, Sara Shahriari’s column again spoke to the future of print and the expectations of journalism students.

This June, I had the pleasure of taking a class at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. I sat with students 30 years my junior, absorbing their enthusiasm and energy with growing respect. The class reinforced the reality of today – newspapers are not dead, they are read online.

More people read this newspaper online than in print. I get my New York Times and Washington Post online. Like so many others, I have a blog site, a Web page and am listed in multiple business and social networking online groups. I have entered the 21st century and am moving forward.

We have also seen a growth of printed books, an increase in local newspapers and magazines, and an explosion of authors. Like the Phoenix, journalism and newspapers will rise from the ashes, allowing everyone with access to read the news in every language from every country on this planet, or hold it in your hands while drinking your morning coffee.

My belief in the reincarnation of journalism comes from a portion of a eulogy written by Robert Ingersoll (1833–1899):

“Why should we fear that which will come to all that is? We cannot tell, we do not know which is the greatest blessing, life or death. We cannot say that death is not good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn.”

Losing a newspaper in a two-paper town would be devastating. Yet journalism will survive and perhaps be elevated through the new mediums of delivery. The printed word will never die; it will just change its mode of delivery. The printed word will include both an ink spot and a pixel.

A new door is opening and the Fourth Estate will remain alive and well.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.


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