For quite some time, I have been negative on newspapers believing that they should be worried about the news part a touch more than the paper part.
Watching them implode as the world changes is like reading the stories about how television won't impact radio, or if there was a record of it, how writing on paper will never replace writing on stone - "Paper can burn up!" claims the stone cutter union, "Writing on stone is forever." And who would have thought the telephone would have destroyed the telegraph? Stop.
I also think in the middle of all of the macro-arguing over advertising trends and the social impact of a town losing a newspaper, sometimes you see a real life human example that develops in front of your eyes that, while a personal decision and personal career move, showcases what is really happening in the world.
Meet my friend Christina Bellantoni.
Here is the biography from her job that she just started.
Christina Bellantoni is a senior reporter ----- covering the White House and Washington at large. Before that, she was a White House correspondent for The Washington Times, a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She joined The Times in December 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign.
Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Mass Communications in 2001. Her first journalism job was for the San Jose Business Journal in 1998, working in the research department to put together data for the "Book of Lists."
Bellantoni won two national journalism awards for Best Scoop in 2001 for her story in Silicon Valley Biz Ink revealing the San Jose Sharks were up for sale. Her stories for the Palo Alto Daily News in 2002 and 2003 won several Bay Area journalism awards.
Now what I blocked out there is that Christina has just joined Talking Points Memo in Washington, DC. Yes, my friend Christina is now a reporter-blogger.
Why does this matter?
Well, first traditional media people huffed and puffed that no one would get their news or read an online-only site. This would explain the remarkable growth of sites like this one, Daily Kos, Firedoglake, Talking Points Memo, I could go on. But it's too easy.
Well, then traditional media people, with a pained look of remarkable self-importance, huffed and puffed that the real issue is that the people who write for these online sites don't have real journalist training, and therefore should be dismissed.
I suppose that it was this real journalistic training and degrees that helped the American people know the truth about the Iraq War, the Swiftboaters and Global Warming. In fact, in the decline, free fall and total failure of the newspaper industry, it might be worth noting the total and complete crap that has been peddled as "reporting."
Last year, in Iowa for the caucuses, Christina and I talked about how so many "name" reporters did all their reporting from Des Moines. To her credit, Christina was shocked by this. To mine, I was not.
When I google "iraq weapons of mass destruction" the 2,000,000 links are at least partially a sad testament to the failure of traditional journalism.
So now, here's a real journalist, with real credentials, who had the audacity to go into the real Iowa last year now writing for a real ... online news site.
Couple of questions.
When she was covering the Democrats for The Washington Times, Christina had direct access to the Obama Campaign, flew on the press plane, got her calls returned promptly, her access was far above what a blogger would get, I promise you, so what about now?
Oh, and that's not about readers, because she has more now.
Because if you go on Alexa and do a quick comparison, you will discover that Talking Points Memo gets more traffic than The Washington Times and, it can be assumed, the readers of TPM are much more engaged, overall, than the readers of The Washington Times.
Which is why Talking Points Memo is hiring, adding people and investors.
And newspapers aren't.