Goodbye P-I

I’m sure I won’t be able to get a copy of the last P-I. Even though subscribers have abandoned her, advertisers shunned her and the blogosphere resented her – a good old fashioned hard copy of that particular daily newspaper will be hard to come by. Why? SeattlePI_Globe

Some people are fool enough to think it will be “valuable” – not really understanding its true value. Some will want a “piece of history” – like they’ll ever take it out of the drawer or plastic storage bucket in the basement to ruminate over its pages. Some will just sense a moment of scarcity and make a run on a commodity without even knowing why they want one.

They are the unwashed masses, who really don’t understand what we’re going to miss. I will watch them scamper for the last shred of newsprint like so many termites hungry for what to them, amounts to a piece of reconstituted wood pulp.

A newspaper is like a church – it’s not the altar or the stained glass or the spinning globe on the roof – it’s the people.

In the case of a news organization, it’s institutional memory, the experience, the deep knowledge of where the bodies are buried that is what’s so valuable. It can’t be found in the physical properties of the paper. It can’t even be found in one day’s publication.

It’s a body of work and consistency over time that defines its value, and we’re all the poorer now for having lost it – whether most of us know it, or not.