I am a big "real people" kinda guy. Even though I have two journalism degrees, one from UNC-Chapel Hill and one from Columbia, I objected a little to the old model of journalism where it was populated by staff writers and a "real person" was lucky if they could get their "15 minutes of fame" being quoted in an article or having a letter to the editor published.

That whole model of "I am the reporter and you're not" has been turned on its head in the past year or two. Today was another sign of an end of an era with the last published edition of the almost 150-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer, one of my hometown newspapers. The other paper in this town, the venerable, privately owned Seattle Times is also not in great financial shape.

As someone who has been on the ground floor of Internet dialogue on health issues, I have mixed emotions about the demise of newspapers. Certainly I worry about less investigative journalism – fewer reporters having the opportunity to research a big story for months. That will be a loss as a watchdog for the American public.

On the other hand, I think the populism and speed of "citizen journalism" on the web – and even crossing over to TV with "ireporters" on CNN – is a really good thing. That lets us hear from anyone anywhere now and in their own words, with their own pictures, with their own face. Unvarnished communication has beauty all its own.

Certainly we, as consumers, will need to develop filters. What's legit? What's significant? The editors at news organizations have done that for us for so many years. So as one traditional media outlet tumbles after another, this will change.

I think we are up to the challenge. That's why I do live talk shows, unscripted. Get the right people teed up for a discussion on an important issues and good things happen. And, you, the viewer/listener/reader are smart enough to extract value for your needs.

In this age of online alerts, search engines, and multimedia content online, in your palm, everywhere, I am excited. Do I feel bad for colleagues who went to journalism schools who are now out of work. Absolutely! Do I think they can find new roles in a new media world? Yes! Maybe as reporters, maybe as bloggers, maybe as just "real people" who are strong writers.

Economics and what people really want now will sort this out. While it's a sad day as old institutions die. Maybe it's the dawn of a positive new day.

Best Wishes,