There are a lot of people grieving about the state of print media in the wake of the Times-Picayune's decision to no longer publish a print edition seven days a week. Call me a nihilist, if you insist (I've been called far worse things), but I say, "What took so long?"
To say print media is in trouble is nothing new, but unfortunately, we don't have a Lassie to somehow communicate our troubles, through a sophisticated system of barking, to Timmy's parents and other readers. The digital age has much more efficient ways to communicate information than the ink-sodden toilet paper we hacks so vociferously lament. Take classifieds, for instance. They were the ultimate cash cow — you got about 20 words, in six-point agate type ("agate" from the Greeks, meaning "tiny letters you can't read without a microscope"), to hock the bicycle you haven't used since the Carter administration, and the newspaper got $45. Now, Craiglist has done the same thing, only more searchable, for free. How do you compete with that?
You can't, and the Times-Picayune gets it. You can't get readers to pay for online content, unless you are one of a very select few papers. And it's harder competing for the interest of readers with gray pages when Apple keeps developing newer and shinier toys to entice people to get their news in other ways.
The alternative, until now, has been the Gannett model — cut until you see bone, at which point, you get yourself a saw and keep going — or just closing up outright. True, there's a problem for papers with "daily" in the flag suddenly going non-daily, but the ability to produce more in-depth content, and regulate day-to-day news to the Web, is probably the best idea going right now, and the only one that encourages print and online to complement each other, instead of undercutting one another.
Or else, in the words of a colleague, we can just prepare for the day when we have to tell our grandchildren what we did for a living "without sounding like our grandparents trying to explain their jobs in the typing pool or as switchboard operators."
I'm even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.