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Washington Sketch: Newspapers Get Some Old-Fashioned Love in the Senate

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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, May 7, 2009

They came as if to their own funeral.

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Reporters from Hearst, USA Today, McClatchy, the Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, the Washington Times and the Boston Globe -- their employers in varying stages of decline or death -- took their places at the press table for a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday titled "The Future of Journalism."

"I hope I get laid off," one of the reporters could be heard telling a Senate staffer, "so I can get the severance."

A newspaper industry official introduced James Moroney, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). "He's a real, live newspaper publisher!" the official marveled.

The eulogies were read.

"An older order is dying," said Steve Coll, former managing editor of The Post.

"High-end journalism is dying in America," testified David Simon, creator of HBO's "The Wire," who wore an open-collar black sport shirt for the somber occasion.

The names of the fallen were read aloud.

"The 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News ceased publishing altogether this year," the panel's chairman, John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), said before mentioning the deaths or near-deaths of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Detroit Free Press and his home-state Boston Globe.

"The Albuquerque Tribune has folded in the last couple of years," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

"If I could just add one more to that list -- that's the Baltimore Sun, my hometown paper, in bankruptcy," offered Cardin.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) must have felt left out. "Whether you read The Washington Post or my hometown newspaper, the Murdo Coyote, all of those newspapers make a contribution to their communities," he said.


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