Don't tell me The Globe's Not Here!
Apr. 9, 2009
What will I do without The Globe? Am I supposed to carry my computer to the kitchen table each morning to get the news â€œon-lineâ€ before going to work? What about my lifetime ritual of going to the door and picking up the paper before I put on the coffee?
Itâ€™s too much to expect old timers like myself to cope with this new reality. I need the paper in my hands. I need to feel it, turn the pages, share it with my wife and even throw it in the recycle box.
It has been my window on the world, my state, city and community since as long as I can remember. If this is progress I want no part of it. Young people may like to get their news on television or by computer but thatâ€™s like preferring fast food to a good sitâ€“down meal.
The Globe is â€œOur Town;â€ the stage manager in that marvelous play whose narrative focuses us on what is important. The internet is a theme park. Newspapers are H.L. Mencken, Walter Lippman and James Reston; the internet is â€œyou tubeâ€ and â€œtwitter.â€
Newspapers represent history and tradition. The â€œinformation highwayâ€ is a new age traffic jam.
Iâ€™ve been willing to tolerate progress up to a point but this has got to stop. Life was better without cell phones, Ipods and the internet. In the communication age weâ€™re bombarded with more noise but getting less information.
We are being inundated by a tidal wave of stuff with almost no time to assess its value or reflect on its meaning. I find it comforting to hold a document in my hands. Life has become a collection of clickers and mouses. Click this, scroll that; what about the sheer joy of turning a page?
I have friends in the newspaper. Iâ€™ve never met them but I enjoy our daily visits. They tell me whatâ€™s going on. I get to know them, develop confidence in their observations and judgment. Who is going to challenge authority and expose stupidity and corruption?
In a democracy, how are we to evaluate our public officials without good investigative journalism and the space to report it?
The Globe is a shared experience, linking us one to another and strengthening our sense of community. Like it or not, it establishes the agenda for much of our public discussion.
Paradoxically, the threads that bind are being cut by things supposedly designed to bring us closer together. Our modern transportation system has made us more rootless. Families are now scattered across the country.
Television has so diluted â€œentertainmentâ€ that junk programs abound. Banality seems to be the common theme.
And now the internet is poised to kill off newspapers. The public square of ideas, common experiences and shared values is being replaced by the chat room. This tends to reinforce our sense of isolation.
Boston will not be the same without The Globe. Sure we have The Herald but it has always been more for adolescents than grownups. Despite occasional flashes of excellence, it too often reads like People magazine.
Hopefully a group of wealthy, public spirited Bostonians will step in and save The Globe. They will recognize it is more than just a business and in many respects serves as the conscience of the community.
If it flounders, it will be a great loss; a very prominent wreck along the â€œinformation highwayâ€ and another example of the price we pay for progress.
(James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law. firstname.lastname@example.org)