On the brink of extinction

12Nov09

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a reunion of sorts with some of my former colleagues from the local paper. Although it was good to see my old friends and catch up on their lives, I was saddened to see how many of them are struggling to stay afloat.

Actually, my colleagues’ struggles serve as a poignant microcosm of the paper’s own troubles. On Monday I heard that my old alma mater is cutting 100 more positions—about 30 in the newsroom—and I was once again reminded of the sad, seemingly inevitable decline that’s enveloping the entire industry.

This notion was on my mind today when I met my friend Pam for one of our blissfully aimless walks (this time, through the Quaking Bog). We talked a bit about the paper, but mostly we joked and marveled at the unique plant life in this old tamarack bog.

During our walk we learned that tamarack bogs were once plentiful in Minnesota. Sadly, all but one were mowed down and paved over as the city grew. Quaking Bog is the last of its kind, a giant life-sized museum exhibit of a vanished species.

I went back to work wondering about the meaning of it all: Why some things disappear while others thrive, and whether anything can be done to bring a bog—or a newspaper—back from the brink of extinction.

How I wish willpower were enough.



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