The Pill Killed Our Newspapers

Final Edition: Twilight of the American Newspaper is a really enjoyable essay tying the death of the San Francisco Chronicle to SF's loss of identity.

It's just a good read, plus I learned a word: "causeuse."

Some interesting random observations along the way, like this one:
If you die in San Francisco, unless you are judged notable by our know-nothing newspaper (it is unlikely you will be judged notable unless your obituary has already appeared in the Washington Post or the New York Times), your death will be noted in a paid obituary submitted to the Chronicle by your mourners. More likely, there will be no public notice taken at all. As much as any vacancy in the Chronicle I can point to, the dearth of obituaries measures its decline.
In the nineteenth-century newspaper, the relationship between observer and observed was reciprocal: the newspaper described the city; the newspaper, in turn, was sustained by readers who were curious about the strangers that circumstance had placed proximate to them. So, I suppose, it is incomplete to notice that the San Francisco Chronicle has become remiss in its obituary department. Of four friends of mine who died recently in San Francisco, not one wanted a published obituary or any other public notice taken of his absence. This seems to me a serious abrogation of the responsibility of living in a city and as good an explanation as any of why newspapers are dying. All four of my friends requested cremation; three wanted their ashes consigned to the obscurity of Nature. Perhaps the cemetery is as doomed in America as the newspaper, and for the same reason: we do not imagine death as a city.
I doubt anyone ever imagined death as a city, but I think I agree with his hint that there's something selfish and anti-social about the impulse to want to leave without a trace.
I do not believe the decline of newspapers has been the result solely of computer technology or of the Internet. The forces working against newspapers are probably as varied and foregone as the Model-T Ford and the birth-control pill. We like to say that the invention of the internal-combustion engine changed us, changed the way we live. In truth, we built the Model-T Ford because we had changed; we wanted to remake the world to accommodate our restlessness. We might now say: Newspapers will be lost because technology will force us to acquire information in new ways. In that case, who will tell us what it means to live as citizens of Seattle or Denver or Ann Arbor? The truth is we no longer want to live in Seattle or Denver or Ann Arbor. Our inclination has led us to invent a digital cosmopolitanism that begins and ends with “I.” Careening down Geary Boulevard on the 38 bus, I can talk to my my dear Auntie in Delhi or I can view snapshots of my cousin’s wedding in Recife or I can listen to girl punk from Glasgow. The cost of my cyber-urban experience is disconnection from body, from presence, from city.
I'm thinking about it.