Uri Deserves an A+

Who exactly made it the newspapers disappear, the media schools, the parents, the teacher?

Gideon Levy has good reason to be proud of his son Uri. He did not mention Uri's grade on his matriculation exam in communication, but on the test of showing mercy, Uri deserves an A+. How considerate of Uri to ask his father about the Lasswell model, the authoritarian model and the hypodermic theory, and not query him on one thing: Dad, what part did you play in the death of print media?

Mass communication schools, in which this writer has been lecturing for almost a decade, sometimes do more for the survival of the print medium than those who make their living from it. They praise it, note how essential it is and even sometimes demand that students cite only print media. But their professional integrity, just like Gideon Levy's journalistic integrity, requires that they also survey its glorious past, as opposed to its depressing present and its somewhat apocalyptic future.

Levy is angry that the audience has sobered up, become choosey and begun to ask tough questions. Strange, I could not have thought of a journalist more blessed with all these characteristics than Levy. In every work of his, he insists on asking whether things are as they appear, and whether they should be this way.

The fact is, even in his article about Uri's exam, he disagrees with the statement in question 7 that the Israeli media shows great openness in its coverage of the crisis between Israel and Hamas. It is easy to accuse the public of superficiality, it is easy to claim that the agents of socialization forgot to tell the public how important print journalism is. It is certainly much easier than wondering what it was in that journalism that caused Levy to "remember the intoxicating scent of the print when my aunt from Jerusalem bought me Ma'ariv at the ... kiosk ... the delivery man, who at the crack of dawn threw our papers up to the third floor with the precision of a sharpshooter, and waiting for the mailman to bring us the children's weekly Haaretz Shelanu ..." It is so easy that even Levy knows exactly what the answer is: "All that is gone forever." Who exactly made it disappear, the media schools, the parents, the teacher?

The truth is, it is a bit frightening to blame Amos Schocken, Noni Mozes, Ofer Nimrodi and the rest of the publishers, and it is much more convenient to ignore the part played by editors in chief, CEOs, marketing directors and everyone who is responsible for print journalism, including Levy and myself. The answer is much more painful than Levy is willing to admit: We just don't do it for them any more; the attempt to blame the public or the agents of education might be perceived as fleeing responsibility.

The only thing we can do is to fight before we give up. Not to wait until someone saves us, but rather to save ourselves. To change, to rejuvenate, to update, to stimulate, to speak to everyone, to guide and to cross our fingers so that Omri, my 7-year-old son, will ask me a moment before his matriculation exam in communication: Dad, how is it that print journalism is still around?