No use for your old ‘library’ card

Never covered the Capitol, but must say, I’m missing even the thought of “the library.” Steve Dunleavy would not approve.

Disheartening as it is, the (apparently long-time) retirement of the rolling liquor cart pales in comparison to the shrinking and disbanding of newspapers’ state capitol bureaus.

We are firm believers in the following principle, recited in Jonathan Mahler’s classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning:

The Corona story was a natural for (Jimmy) Breslin, who, as his editor Michael O’Neill once put it, believed that politicians needed to be beaten every morning in order to keep them attentive to the will of the people.

So, as we lose traditional coverage of the statehouses, and as the ranks of reporter-watchdogs disappear and the old days leave us behind (for better, in only one way), we’re not left with much, other than The Blogs — both those produced by thinning newspapers (some are written by groundbreaking pros and can sometimes be excellent, but as papers leave the Capitol, so too do their reporters — whether they’re writing for print or online; and many of the rest of their blogs are not so excellent) and the independent partisan ones, which often make my ranting look sane by comparison (thanks, bloggers!). In turn, this only encourages the festering corruption in capital cities nationwide like Albany to stink a little more; except no one is there to notice the stench.

Of course, papers like Gannett’s facilitated this decline, even before budget cuts became fashionable, by largely de-emphasizing coverage of government (especially at the county and state level) except for the most controversial items under the ruse of “people don’t want to read about policy and government.” A predictable decline in local knowledge and (I would argue) a decline in the respect for knowledge and intelligence followed. No beating of the politicians allowed, please.

Well, with no journo future at least there’s other options. Right?


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