Kathleen Parker

What, meanwhile, would twitterers and bloggers tweet and blog about if news organizations no longer provided them the meat on which most chew?

Which is not to say that twitterers and bloggers are not also valuable. They are. Twitterers reported live from Mumbai in real time. Bloggers often provide news and analysis from remote corners. The new media world is composed of multiple moving parts in a symbiotic, interactive relationship. The corner store where neighbors swapped gossip has become Times Square, always awake and buzzing with data.

Even so, only the old, maligned MSM provide the lion's share of information necessary to the government oversight vital to freedom.

Newspapers have been trying valiantly to adapt to hardships imposed by declining readership and depressed ad sales. Today, only four in 10 households subscribe to a daily newspaper, compared to a more than 100 percent household penetration in 1950. Most papers, their pages trimmed a money-saving 12-inch width, don't weigh enough to thump when they land.

One of the skinniest surely is The Oklahoman, a copy of which just landed on my desk. Only 11 inches wide, the paper is designed to be read in conjunction with the Internet. Which is to say, it doesn't bother readers much with text. If Tanya Twitter married Al Neuharth, their offspring would look like this: lots of photos, color, and refers elsewhere for those who really must read.

Thus have the old media become the new. They haven't gone to bed, but have merely joined the kids' party, trading up the old gas-guzzling Chrysler for a smaller, more efficient hybrid. Eventually -- some time around 2040, according to one prediction -- the last newspaper will thwap its last fly.

In the meantime, no matter the mode of transport, news organs will always need content and no one does that better than those people everyone likes to hate so much. Like nosy neighbors, the MSM are often annoying, but we'll miss them when they're gone.

When the world comes unplugged, someone still has to put oil in the lamps.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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