the decline of the newspaper

Permit me, however, to add another factor. Many American newspapers in the course of the last century developed a stultifying self-importance. Hegel, who as far as I know is the first philosopher to edit a newspaper, was present at this attitude's birth. In his diary he wrote: "Reading the morning newspaper is the realist's morning prayer." To Hegel, in other words, the daily paper represents the ascent from superstitious faith in God to realistic faith in science and history. The newspaper's account of world events is the first draft of true scripture, showing God's will at work turning Earth into rational heaven.

But have you tried reading the heavenly editorial pages of, oh, the San Francisco Chronicle or the New York Times? It's impossible, at least if you value lively writing, humor, and sharp thinking. Everything is ex cathedra, written with a drear infallibility far surpassing any pope's. A kindred smugness—Rather is its public face—often grips the news pages, leavened only by the irony oozing from the lifestyle and entertainment reporting. And how few papers retain any sense of local character, most of which has been sacrificed to Hegel's God of universal wisdom, known in the business as the journalism schools and wire services. The only sections responding to the natural limits of human affection and knowledge are the business and sports pages. The latter are superior because they invite readers to share in the athletes' beautiful, unironic, and unashamedly partisan (Go Dodgers!) quest for excellence.
- Charles Kesler in the Claremont Review

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