San Francisco author Richard Rodriguez (best known for his books “Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez” and the “Browning of America”) tells New American Media that if the Chronicle is dying, San Francisco is dying too.
- When a metropolitan newspaper of that magnitude stops publication it indicates that there has been a death of the metropolitan ideal. Newspapers in America, most of them, the ones that are dying now were 19th Century inventions, and they came at a time where America was new to itself, when people had no idea what it meant to be in Ann Arbor, Mich., or Denver, Colo., or Seattle Wash. So the newspaper really provided a sense of place. That’s what’s dying.
Another quote from the Q&A with New American Media:
- The San Francisco Chronicle about 10 years ago stopped publishing [free] obituaries. It just publishes page after page of paid obituaries. Well, when obituaries are no longer the business of newspapers, just as when wedding announcements are no longer the business of newspapers, or birth announcements as they once were, that means that that city has no way to remember itself or to think about itself.
In some way the failure is simultaneous. I’ve had a number of friends of mine that have died in San Francisco; they did not want any newspaper notice taken of their death. When you have increasing numbers of people, who are no longer interested in having other people know about their coming or going, it seems to me already the civic fabric has been ruptured, and that’s what happened in San Francisco. It may be 30 years in the making, but it’s happened now, and we blame the Internet or we blame computers.
(Photo credit: PBS “News Hour”)