Without healthy newspapers, we’re just Myanmar with better department stores and less stylish military uniforms.
That’s the rallying cry of the newspaper industry’s saviors, anyway. As Jack Shafer memorably put it in Slate, this narrative reduces newspapers to a “compulsory cheat sheet for democracy.” They deserve better than that. Throughout the 20th century, our daily broadsheets and tabloids played a far richer role in our culture. They deepened our spiritual lives with horoscopes. They kept our minds sharp with crossword puzzles and the Jumble. They helped us track our favorite TV shows and paid for themselves by offering great deals on detergent. In their lighter moments, they delighted us with the cartoon antics of lasagna-loving cats.