Going down, Mr. Tyler?

From Editor & Publisher:

The average circulation decline among 684 US daily papers is averaging 1.9% in the past year. In some places it is catastrophic. This is the biggest drop in the last five years. And no one is forecasting a turnaround yet. In case it hasn’t occurred to anyone, that means fewer slots for Newspaper Guild workers. Media credibility is in the toilet, even if the Koran isn’t.

The Manchester Guardian’s Peter Preston explains where the circulation is going—-“the defectors are packing up and moving out of newsprint: to broadcasting in tiny measure (though radio and TV news are losing customers, too) but overwhelmingly to the Net.” And it isn’t the Right or the blogosphere that are doing this to us, although that is what the MSM would prefer to believe. We are doing it ourselves.

If the most basic tenets of Journalism 101 are now no longer important enough for the media itself to honor and defend against their own members who violate them, where is the professionalism and the authority that is our main claim to writing the indispensable “first draft of history” – much less its value for sale? And if we lose sight of that irretrievably, who needs us? There are bloggers out there today with more credibility than Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, Eason Jordan, and Linda Foley combined, and their audiences are growing.

But they’re professionals! PROFESSIONALS! Yeah, well, I don’t recall seeing any journalists drafted on ESPN this spring. Lawyers, however loathesome they might be, are professionals. Doctors are professionals. Veterinarians are professionals. Journalists? I don’t think so.

It’s a trade, not a profession. Otherwise, Dan Rather, Linda Foley and a whole host of similarly truth-challenged individuals would have lost their ability to practice some time ago.