Saturday, December 27, 2008

Alvah Chapman is dead and newspapers don't feel so good themselves

A man best known as the longtime publisher of the Miami Herald and a South Florida civic leader, Alvah Chapman, died Dec. 25. He was what newspaper people are at their best, a proponent for the community his paper covered. I wonder how many of today's bloggers are as engaged in their real, as opposed to their virtual, communities as was Chapman. One of the assets of the Internet is that it creates a worldwide community. I often wonder if people will one day be less likely to join armies and kill people on the other side of the world when they know some of those people via their computer. But one of its liabilities is that it breaks down connections to one's spatial community.
I never knew Chapman, but I started in newspapers at the newspaper he started at in his hometown and mine, Columbus, Ga. When I walked into the Ledger-Enquirer newsroom, it was in the R.W. Page building, named for Chapman's grandfather. One of the things I find so distasteful about the tenor of Newspaper Death Watch and Jeff Jarvis is their unabashed glee at the damage done to newspapers as a community institution. Where's the momentary nostalgia? The poignant reminiscing? The social consciousness? All we have is people dancing on Alvah Chapman's grave. Can't you show some respect?

1 comment:

Paul Gillin said...

Actually, I take no glee in the death of newspapers, particularly since so many people are hurt by all these layoffs and cutbacks. I am fascinated and dismayed that the executives who foresaw and could have mitigated this damage chose to ignore the warning signals. To a large extent, they're getting what they had coming to them. But the demise of such an important information source is too tragic to be the cause of any delight.
Paul Gillin
Newspaper Death Watch