John Walter was a longtime newspaperman and a founding editor of USA Today. He died last September, but not before writing this bullshit-free essay on the three guys who killed newspapers. The short version:

1. A.J. Liebling, for a 1949 New Yorker story he wrote presaging the rise of one-paper towns, a phenomenon that killed competition and made papers soft and weak.

2. The layout editor who figured out that newspapers could look more like magazines, which made them write more like magazines, which made them soft and weak.

3. Al Neuharth, the head of Gannett, who figured out how to make Wall Street love newspaper companies for their growth figures, which led to every damn newspaper company rushing to go public and pursue growth, which took the focus off journalism, which, today, has led to papers becoming soft and weak.

I honestly never heard of John Walter before today, but he wrote a damn good essay. Check it out. [Pic: Michael Newlyn]