If you have bad news to bury, put it out on a Friday. And if it is really bad news, put it out on the Friday of a holiday weekend. It’s a technique as old as newspapers themselves. So, who better to utilize this technique than the Cape Cod Times (CCT) itself? In case you missed it, and you were supposed to, the CCT announced the Friday of Memorial Day weekend that it would cease editorial writing and just publish reader letters and columns.
Before you say, “So what? I never agreed with them anyway,” think for a moment what this means in context of the role of newspapers in modern society. Newspapers used to provide actual news and community and regional papers provided in-depth coverage of local events not found elsewhere in mass media beyond the reach of really local weekly publications. These admittedly old school journalistic outposts all had editorial boards with whom one could meet and speak with to push ideas for inclusion in editorials. While not the final word by any means, the ideas put forth in regional daily papers often spurred conversations that helped solve the major issues of the day from opposition to drilling on George’s Bank to supporting the creation of the Cape and Islands Water Protection Trust.
Will we be able to figure out the next issues we face without the CCT Editorial Board? Sure, but it will be a little harder, not because of the demise of the Editorial Board but because its demise reflects a larger trend away from thoughtful consideration of the issues of the day. We are in the midst of a transition to a society in which everyone speaks into their own echo chambers and uses the agreement they receive to shout down the other side. Editorials and properly sourced news are going away because their market has shrunk due to the reality that so few of us are willing to have our ideas and preconceptions challenged. It is far easier to share your opinions with the like-minded, take their agreement as validation and go fight the bad guys on the other side.
Shame on the nameless, faceless conglomerate that owns the CCT for their actions, but all they did was stick a fork in what we killed with our own lack of interest and curiosity.