The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

Gloom and doom strikes again. Last week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer let go about one-third their newsroom staff.

The bright spot, one supposes, is ABC’s announcement a short while earlier that it was hiring Jenny McCarthy as a host on “The View.”

Surely, there must be room, too, at some media outlet for inarticulate beauty pageant contestants. They ought not be compelled to reside only on YouTube.

Though not especially competitive, it is very unlikely I will anytime soon win an Optimist of the Year award. To my knowledge, no such competition currently exists, except, maybe, on Facebook.

But, isn’t today’s media landscape really the most exciting time since Gutenberg?

Doubtless, 15th century monks and calligraphers were none-too-excited about the prospect of moveable type.

The technology threatened their professions, after all. And, at risk of sounding like the second speaker at a meeting of the Pessimists Club, it gets worse.*

Moveable type coupled with wine presses would be profitable and socially meaningful only if literacy was to become widespread.

Of course we had to wait four centuries for the introduction of compulsory public (funded) education before that became noticeable.

The upheaval wrought by all things digital – including newspaper closings, the demise of the daily paper, large-scale firing of journalists, diminished TV and radio ratings, drastic dips in sales of books, magazines and recorded sound, and slumping theatrical movie attendance – is, ah, um, unnerving.

But wait. There’s more.

It is, as we all know, one Dickens of a time.

As with Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention, it isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

That, though, is cold comfort to Cleveland journalists.

* At meeting of the Pessimists Club, the first speaker stands at the podium and announces: “Everything is awful.” The second speaker strides to the same podium and exclaims: “It’s worse than that!” End of meeting.

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