Something about The Salt Lake Tribune being in a place that necessitated cutting a third of the staff has me feeling unexpectedly maternal.
It’s not because I feared losing something so dear to me (although I very much did), and it’s not even my odd and overwhelming desire to smoosh any sad person into my bosom and tell them it’s going to be OK (although the offer stands for my former 34 colleagues or their friends who had to send them on their way).
It’s my disappointment.
Utah, how we can disrespect the cast of “Hamilton,” deface national monuments, breathe tangible air, elect Sen. Orrin Hatch 600 times, and now complain about typos and ads in our (Pulitzer Prize-winning) journalism to the point of strangling one of the state’s strongest and longest-standing advocates for democracy, transparency and fairness?
This is why we can’t have nice things.
But, friends, while journalism is certainly a commodity, it isn’t some consumer product that we can trash if it isn’t precisely to our liking.
It’s also not a work of art — something that’s been meticulously refined to the point of perfection.
And it’s not a motivational poster there to inspire us each and every time we look at it.
Having strong local reporting is more like buying an old house — it’s an investment that requires love and attention. When the plumbing isn’t serving us well, we don’t take to the internet to complain and decide not to use water any anymore. We roll up our sleeves, invest in upgrades and get things flowing again.
If we don’t acknowledge and address the signs of wear over time, we’ll lose the original hardwood floors, that gorgeous handmade stained-glass and inevitably the structural integrity of that which provides us shelter from the storm.
It’s fast. And imperfect. And it’s utterly necessary.
At its core, journalism is a reflection of our human condition, and I am afraid we just saw our own apathy in the mirror.
Now, I understand the reasons for The Tribune’s financial reality are complex and multitudinous. The industry as a whole is shifting, ad revenues are down, business models need revisiting, blah blah blah. But I’m not sure any of that would be material if we all cared enough about being informed.
Much like voting, choosing to not be impervious to the goings on around us is our civic duty. Ignorance isn’t bliss if bliss means we lose our watchdogs, our historians, our storytellers and our opinionators.
I know, though, as Utahns, we are better than this. We are far too smart, compassionate and engaged to let this remain our reality, but we don’t have any time to waste.
So go out there and make mama proud. Click through all the links in this story and read them if you haven’t already. Be informed. Hit the paywall. And subscribe.
Marina Gomberg’s lifestyle columns appear on sltrib.com. She is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at email@example.com.