My favorite all-time movie moment about journalism takes place at the end of the Humphrey Bogart 1952 film Deadline USA. Bogart as the grizzled editor defies a gangster’s threat and order not to print a story about him. He orders the press to roll and holds the phone up so the gangster can hear it. Bogart spits out:
"Hear that sound: it’s the sound of the free press."
So it’s shocking stuff about the closure of the Rocky Mountain News. And in recent days the San Francisco Chronicle and Philadelphia Inquirer in deep financial trouble. Even Jeff Jarvis, who has an answer for everything but newsgathering, can’t tell you who will cover city hall, the courts, and the school boards. It won’t be bloggers that’s for certain. Who then holds public officials accountable and tracks the spending of tax dollars? As an old journalist friend said to me," If you’re bailing out banks, why not bail out newspapers?"