Raw Fisher: Toast
If today's weren't the last installment of Raw Fisher, I might be writing about a small victory -- the District's decision yesterday to save the Eastern Branch and two other Boys & Girls Clubs, a cause I've tried to champion here for years -- or about Half A Tank, a new blog chronicling a journey across the Washington region and beyond by a Post photographer and writer searching for the stories of this recession.
But today is the end of this particular road, and so I thought I'd use this last moment to offer readers one final chance to explain just why the positions I've taken are completely boneheaded, why the stories I've told fail to represent the truth, and why journalism is going to seed. Today marks the end of the Raw Fisher blog, and at noon, the last regular edition of the Potomac Confidential chat will be live here on the big web site -- we'll mix it up on the issues of the day and on your views about the column, the blog, The Post and the future of the news media.
In my farewell column on Sunday, I wrote about the strengths and structural problems both the new media and the traditional print media have faced as I've experienced the great transition during my decade of writing the column:
There was something empowering about the new media, the digital technology that let readers speak out in the same format, the same time frame and the same space as the news that had hitherto been delivered from on high.
I loved the new battleground of ideas even as I lamented how opinion -- the laziest form of journalism -- was elbowing out the rigorous work of reporting. In this new world, it was so cheap to mouth off that the difficult and sometimes less-exciting work of ferreting out facts became too easy to discard or trim back.
What's your sense of how the evolution toward web-based news has altered the content and usefulness of journalism? Is it harder to find common ground for conversation and political debate in a country where everyone's reading and watching a different diet of information, or does the depth and personalization of Internet journalism make up for the loss of mass media?
Are we as Washington area residents better able to deal with the challenges in our daily lives because we can connect through neighborhood listservs and other such targeted, detailed media, or have we lost something because fewer people share the same stories that they used to find in the paper or on radio or TV? Or both?
In my new gig at The Post, we're going to try to find the stories that reveal truths about the hard questions facing people who live in this region. My belief is that the way to do that is almost always to go micro -- to find the people, issues, conflicts and places whose detailed stories help us understand the lives we all live, even if we're two or twenty miles away from the site of that story.
But the shrinking of the news media means there will be less routine coverage of the daily doings of some institutions that determine how kids are educated, how safe our streets are, who's running our government or how we're caring for those in need.
I'd like to hear your thoughts about how to make those choices -- both here on the comment board and during our last chat together at noon today.
Finally, many thanks to the great many of you who have written in to say how much you've liked our conversation here, even when we disagree on some of the big issues. I've tried over the years to respond to nearly all of the 250,000 e-mails and questions that have come rolling in.
The interaction with readers, here and on the chat and through the column, has been one of the most rewarding aspects of this job, and I hope our conversations will continue.
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