Thursday, April 24, 2008

Metamorphosis with Attitude

The Isthmus asks a question about the leap of faith Madison’s very old progressive paper is taking. The end of an era: Panicked newspapers seek salvation. Will the Cap Times find it on the web? Written with the empathy of a fellow comrade in the struggle, Marc Eisen writes:

Newspapers won't die off as quickly as slide rules did when calculators were introduced, but the changes under way are so epochal you'd be foolish to believe anyone who speaks confidently of what publishing will be like in 10 years.

The switch from paper to pixels to deliver the news represents far more than a change in transmission. The definition of news itself changes online. This is big stuff, truly a shift in the paradigm.

As the advent of bloggers, listservs and reader comments attest, online news is "less of a lecture, more of a conversation," as media analyst Jay Rosen has put it. This is hard for old-school journalists to accept. They're used to hiding behind either the fig leaf of "objective" reporting or the omniscience of magazine-style journalism. Now stories are picked apart online by citizen commenters and bloggers.

Marc Eisen is exactly right. As long as government allows the public freedom to access and question information, the conversation will push towards the truth. So let’s take a quick look at the first topic the electronic metamorphosis of the Capital Times brings up. Actually, it's not a call for reasoned debate.

Call Congress on climate change: Call the Capitol switchboard today at 202-224-3121 and leave a message for members of the Wisconsin delegation, telling them that their constituents want:
* A moratorium on new coal-burning plants.
* Renewable energy.
* Carbon-neutral buildings.
* Protection for the poor and middle class in the new green economy.

Now it strikes me as strange that the first thing the Capital Times wants as they transform from paper to electricity is a moratorium on coal-burning electricity generating plants. Why call for restrictions on the essential energy we are all depend upon? We all know the reason is because “progressive thinkers” believe carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal is "bad" for our photosynthesis dependent environment. This is exactly why the conversation needs to be brought back to these questions – is there a limit to the CO2 greenhouse effect and when that limit is reached, what exactly is dangerous in a healthy, warm and growing world?