Breaking The News: The News is No More

In the arc of time so much that we know suddenly changes. It happens on a familiar corner, where that Subway or old Greyhound station might have been, replaced now by a gaping hole or rising construction crane.

It’s in my mind tonight not so much because NWCN will soon vanish, a disappearance that makes sense in our digital epoch where much of what we see on screen is a rehash of much we already know from devices in our pockets, laps, or on desktops. No, news of NWCN’s passing happened to arrive on a day we drove past the old KING Broadcasting site – where another crane rises from the rubble of a building where I worked with so many friends and colleagues for so long.

KING exists somewhere in SODO now, but on screen (with a handful of of exceptions) it might as well be a channel beamed from the moon — the old faces are gone, bought out/retired/dismissed, and with them a sense of time, commitment to an idea of news, an aspiration to become a NYT inside a 21-inch screen (huge in its time) that remains only in mind.
Those were days, in the age before cable/smartphones/tablets/Roku/streaming/Netflix when more than half the TV sets plugged in and turned on at news time were tuned to channel 5. A good rating now? 12% if we’re lucky.

Now, though old habit brings me back daily to Nightly News, I wouldn’t trade the instant access to at least half a dozen journals on the tablet where I scribble this, nor the other multiple sources I might never find were in not for FB friends. We move on, our curiosity, our passion for information, for news of the nearby and beyond, unchanged – in fact now overwhelmed by the near flood of choices. A richness beyond the imagination (a danger, too, in its temptation to seek only comforting opinion)

We’ll always have though, in mind and fond memory, reaching for a dial phone to call a source inside city council staff, or rummaging through a council member’s wastebasket for carbon copies that might contain a story, or lunching with his or her staff assistant, mining for news.

It was a good time……

Northwest Cable News, the channel that built an always-on, CNN-like news outlet for the Pacific Northwest, is set to go off the air early next year.

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