For many, the abstract reasons we’ve been given to explain the death of newspapers—the Internet, decline of advertising dollars and media conglomerates—have been cold comfort. This essay, retrieved from newspaperman John Walter’s desktop a few months after he died, gives out-of-work journalists and readers starved of local news what they really want: someone to blame. Walter, who served as executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was a founding editor of USA Today, pins the whole mess on three men: a columnist who wrote about one-newspaper towns in The New Yorker in 1949, a layout editor who made newspapers look more like magazines in the late 1960s and an enterprising general manager of a newspaper chain in Rochester, NY.
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