Youve heard it here before and will again. Join this colloquy and give your views in Readers Comments. In the meanwhile, here are some of the most frequently asked questions with my responses:
Why would a newspaper be that important? In an era of New Media, newspapers are old-fashioned. The times are swayed by blogs, talk radio, cable news like Fox.
New Media is a great boon, marvelous improvements in communications but the crown jewel of Old Media is the newspaper. And this isnt just an old geezer talking. A newspaper that takes the news, analyzes it according to a philosophic perspective and comments on it editorially is indispensable for generation of ideas. Its an educational device and has been repeated for ages. The modern conservative movement began in this country with Buckleys National Review which began in 1955. The right at last had a responsible organ that was not goofily libertarian like The American Mercury and Freeman, not crankily dinosaur like a number of smaller sheets, not anti-Semitic-tinged like the American Firsters put out. Buckley made conservatism respectable by setting up a publication that was Burkean, spurred by the late Russell Kirk. It was thoughtful, clever and soon the swamp was drained of the nuts. Conservatives had a publication to hearken toand nine years later, they captured the Republican party with the nomination of Barry Goldwater. Like it or not, The Weekly Standard is indispensable for promoting thought, albeit neo-conservative thought
and as Im regarded as a neo type, I guess it suits me. (But the paleos also have a good publication: Chronicles, put out by the Rockford Institute).
But cant Fox, talk radio with Rush, bloggers and the magazines you mentioned do it alone?
No, of course not. In this age of New Media, where would we be without The Washington Times, the New York Post, the New York Sun? My point is if we ever want to turn Illinois around, weve got to encourage a conservative paper here.
Well, what about the Tribune?
Sorry. The same year National Review started, Col. McCormick died. He was a remarkable old stuffed shirt with some crazy ideas, like our taking over Canada, but he had the right ideas about newspaperingthat is to make his newspaper an opinionated force for change. After he died, the paper began to slide into an apologetic mode: first becoming ungodly dull, then slowly starting to drain the news staff of writers who held opinions deemed crusty and unconventional, then moving the editorial policy to ones that embraced only tried and accepted establishmentarian ideas. Then along came the man Jim Bob, James D. Squires, who had begun with the Nashville Tennessean who wore cowboy boots, had gone to school with Al Gore and had run the Tribs Washington bureau. Under Squires the paper took a quixotic editorial turn, endorsing of all people Gods angry patriarch of liberalism John B. Anderson for president who got 7 percent nationally, ending up as first an independent candidate for president and lastly as a Democratic lefty, pleasing his long dissatisfied radical wife Keke very much.
Well, how can things be changed?
Both papers are in serious financial trouble. If the Trib goes belly up and has to sell its other papers, it could be acquired. If the Sun-Times which has done a good job for itself in realigning to the left so as to serve the many Democrats in Chicago, doesnt cut itand its still losing moneyit could be acquired. But I rather like the idea of a third paper. If liberal New York can have twocount `emtwo conservative papers Republican cant we have one?
What kind of paper would it be?
First of all, youd be surprised at how many veteran journalist share the conservative mantra, some retired, some not. These would be people who would make a sacrifice to out-cover and out-perform the two dailies. Second, if the idea were to germinate youd be amazed at how many entrepreneurs would be engrossed. Do you realize the money that is spent out on many conservative agendas that has been frittered away? Do you realize the frustration from people who dont see their ideas represented by the Mono-Media? As to what kind of paper I would hope it to be, it should cover the news from City Hall with the same kind of purposeful direction as Fran Spielman impartswith probably a dash of more graphic realism than what she is allowed to portray: as when we wrote in one news article, truly, that Rahm Emanuel owes his soul to Richard M. Daley.
The editorial policy would be conservative but, I would hope, not slavishly Republican. The Republican dominance of Congress needs some criticism from the right, the fact that a crusade as it truly was when Newt Gingrich won, had been a cause. Then it became a business. Now to all appearances, it has become for too many a racket, a vehicle to get reelected. I would hope that it would be Burkean (by which I do not refer to the 14th wards Eddie) but reflective of Edmund as defined by Russell Kirk. In other words, a policy that sees government performing the good it must doto defend us, to defend the weak, the unbornbut not an unduly expansive government. I could see it defending Bush on the war (with probably some criticism of our own Don Rumsfeld, a friend, for not sending enough troops), defending Bushs social policies, criticizing him on his lack of vetoes, his failure to veto McCain-Feingold. Were it operating now, Id hope it would support what I believe is the correct social view on immigration, the one expressed by David Brooks (and no, I havent run down his statistics yet) and Bill Kristol
but Id sure have Jim Oberweis whom I supported for governor write a sharp dissent.
I would hope it would be proudly for free trade as Jim is. Id have the best Democrat around, State Rep. Jack Franks, write often about zero-base budgeting. Id have Ron Gidwitz who espoused it more than anyone else in his creative gubernatorial campaign write about it. Id have Don Haider, one of the smartest guys I know, from Northwestern, examine reforms. Id have Paul Green write in his refreshing comedic way about Illinois and Chicago.
But I must stop.
Are these just dreams? Just dreams?
Im sufficiently familiar with dreams to know that some of them come true. Id like to start with a few guysoh, let me violate his privacy for a time, realizing I should have had his permission to give his name
but hes a good contributor to this blog and a friend as well: a young guy with superb entrepreneurial vision, John Powers. Id start with him and would buy his lunch at the CAA just to see how his bright mind tackles this problem. As I cannot, as an old retired man, buy all of you lunches, I would ask the rest of you to comment on this. Am I goofy? Can it be done? Your comments respected always at Readers Comments.