Oh. Oh no. Oh no no no no. Oh dear God no.

Last week I thought long and hard about writing a post on our former arch-nemesis Gregg Easterbrook — whom we have lambasted in this space for everything from self-righteous moralizing to being bad at science. I’ve continued to read Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column throughout all of these episodes, because despite his flaws, he does offer a unique approach to sports and is quite often correct about things like the mendacity of Brett Favre and the fraidy-cat play calling of NFL coaches.

That was what I was going to say. Now I’m going to say something different.

gregg_easterbrookNow I’m going to say that Gregg Easterbrook has hatched, from deep inside the inky recesses of his brain pan, the single most stupidest idea for saving the newspaper industry in the history of the entire universe. If there were a contest in which everybody in America were asked to come up with the dumbest, most intellectually baffling, immediately recognizably moronic idea they could, and then those ideas were cast into a great heap so that they could be weighed as one unit, it is indisputable scientific fact that it would represent only a small fraction of Gregg Easterbrook’s proposition.

If you opened the door to a room with this idea inside of it, the smell alone would erase your entire brain.

Consider yourselves warned:

Can technology save newsprint? Here is the advance TMQ is hoping for: a print-cost breakthrough that allows you to print the newspaper yourself at home, eliminating delivery. Xerox recently rolled out a new generation of printers that use something called “solid ink” to cut the cost of color. Xerox’s product is intended for the office market, where most printing occurs, but perhaps is an indicator there will be a cost breakthrough in home printing.

“Huhhhh-GUH. Huuuhhhhhhhhhh-guh. HUUUUUHHHHHHHHHH-GUHHH.”

That’s the sound of my disbelief falling off its suspension.

There’s more:

Already home printers are themselves cheap, though the ink is expensive. If “solid ink” or some other improvement cuts the price, here’s what a future newspaper economy might look like: You subscribe, and each morning at whatever time you select, the newspaper transmits itself to your advanced printer, including, of course, the very latest news to that moment. Even with you paying for the ink and paper, that might cost less than $63 a month, since the newspaper subscription price — now basically a licensing fee — would go way down. You could set your printer to produce only the parts of the paper you actually read, reducing resource waste. A category of entry-level employment, newspaper delivery — once done by teens on bicycles, now often done by adults using cars — would be eliminated. But that’s a lot better than all newspaper-related jobs being eliminated!

If there were only some platform that would deliver me the news I need without forcing me to subscribe to a printed, delivered newspaper. Perhaps some way to make use of these computers and their blazing fast rates of information transfer. Oooooh, I’ve got it. Someone should establish a digital network of some sort in which news stories can be hosted and transmitted. Then we can feed that information directly into the brains of cockatoos — either through USB or ethernet ports. The cockatoos can then read us the news as we prepare to walk to work the wrong way around the entire Earth.

For all our grousing about what appears in the paper, right now American newspapers as a group are the very best they have ever been. Subscribe, or patronize the local newsbox. You will be sorry if the newspaper industry fades away. And don’t say, “I’ll just use the Internet for news.” The vast majority of the news presented on the Internet originates as a newspaper story.

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I’m sorry. My brain just flipped inside out for a second there. What were we talking about? The Internet?

Yep, Favre proved he can still play [TMQ]

6 Comments

Filed under journalism

6 responses to “Oh. Oh no. Oh no no no no. Oh dear God no.

  1. Esquire

    You’d think on an ESPN salary he could afford a Kindle.

  2. No, no — his home printing press idea is far more logical solution for someone whose own columns are read on the Internet 99% of the time.

  3. Esquire

    Also, why doesn’t he take advantage of that modern technological marvel, the desktop printer? His “solid ink” idea is kind of like opting for lighting a fire with a flamethrower instead of a match. (Of course, maybe he addresses this in his piece, but I’m not going to dignify it with a page view.)

  4. Jaelynne

    Did he just re-invent the fax machine?

  5. Wow. If that idea was even fractionally more stupid, he could be put to death in Russia.

  6. Zorro for the Common Good

    Wait, you know how TMQ always does those “throwback” columns (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/090915&sportCat=nfl) in which he pretends to be writing from the perspective of some previous year? I think that’s what happened here; he was pretending to write a column from 1989, and making a wry commentary on how clueless people were back then. I mean, that’s gotta be it, right? No one could write something like that in 2009 with a straight face, right? RIGHT?

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