To wit ... the loss of journalism, the demise of the newspaper industry, the disappearance of investigative minds that ask sometimes obvious but oh-so-necessary questions: "What did you just decide behind those closed doors?" "Who gave you all that money?" "Who's been tickling your ribs and diddling your nether regions?"
Laura Leslie, who works the hallways of the NC State Capitol for lowly Public Radio and may be the best reporter on state government that we've got, just wrote on her blog a pretty devastating jeremiad about the current sorry state of journalism in our state. She says that when she started covering the General Assembly, there were 20 in the press corps, all jostling each other for the bragging rights of getting the story first of what was really going on. This year, at the wee-morning-hour adjournment of the General Assembly, there were only eight reporters present. That's not good for our democracy. It may be ever bit as bad as The Supremes' recent official unleashing of the Kraken of Corporate America.
The NC General Assembly bears watching. But so do all local governments in North Carolina, maybe even more desperately, because many small-town newspapers are much more into stroking local egos than they are into turning over rocks and seeing what scurries away. Somebody might get mad. It's been some years since we could depend on a blow-by-blow public accounting of what went down at every meeting of every governing body in Watauga, from the County Commission to town councils. When nobody watches -- and washes all that dirty linen in public -- then democracy suffers.