Election 2008: Shining a Light on the (Ir)relevance of Print?

300_55467.jpgThe fallout from this election season is being felt in many different corners of our lives: feminism, such as it is, is once again on the front-burner, SNL may actually be relevant again, and the merits of the caucus vs. primary, may no longer qualify as a bonus question on a civics test, so common a topic did it become last spring. But for our purposes it all comes down to, you guessed it, whether print journalism is still relevant in this election cycle. Not so much, Bill Keller tells the NYO.

The news outlets that aim to be aggressive, serious and impartial — don’t dominate the conversation the way we once did, and that’s fine, except it means some excellent hard work gets a little muffled.
But is it really fine?

Actually we think so. And since we still turn to the NYT (online) as a main source of news the fact we rarely see it in print has had very little effect on its relevance in our lives. However! The parts of the paper that pack a punch may be what is shifting. We only have a vague memory of the Johnny Apple days (though, one suspects he’s the sort of person that might have made the transition to online life rather smoothly), but Keller points out that the Times investigative pieces appear to be losing their staying power:

One of the casualties, I think, is that powerfully reported and written stories, especially investigative and accountability ones, do not land with the impact they once did, they might still turns heads — and thankfully at times change things — but usually they get pushed aside as the new-media machine moves to the next ‘thing.’
(Or they get picked up and carried (or fisked) by the blogosphere.) Keller uses the Times recent Palin article as an example: “Even a meaty, damning, 3,100-word, three-bylined front-page Sept. 14 Times piece on Sarah Palin’s management style doesn’t appear to have the same sort of impact on the campaign trail that it might once have.” But, as we all know, size does not matter in these new media lands the way it once did — perhaps the Times investigative team should consider reporting its next piece via Twitter, we bet that would carry.