You may recall a few weeks ago that Dave Eggers promised to email anyone who needed reassurance that print wasn't dying. He even emailed Gawker! In a Q & A with Salon, Eggers insists that America's children are print's savior.
Responding to the question, "If I were to write to you and say, 'Dave, cheer me up about the future of writing,' what would you say?" Eggers said the following:
Our students at 826 Valencia still have a newspaper class, where we print an actual newspaper, and we do magazine classes and anthologies where they're all printed on paper. That's the main way we get them motivated, that they know it's going to be in print. It's much harder for us to motivate the students when they think it's only going to be on the Web.
The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don't see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it's dead or dying. I think we've given up a little too soon. We [i.e., McSweeney's] have been working every day on a prototype for a new newspaper, and a lot of what we're doing is resurrecting old things, like things from the last century that newspapers used to do, in terms of really using the full luxury of the broadsheet newspaper, with full color and all that space.
I think newspapers shouldn't try to compete directly with the Web, and should do what they can do better, which may be long-form journalism and using photos and art, and making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper. You know, including a full-color comic section, for example, which of course was standard in newspapers years ago, when you'd have a full broadsheet Winsor McCay comic. So we'll have a big, full-color comic section, and we're also trying to emphasize what younger readers are looking for, what directly appeals to them. It's hard to find papers these days that really do anything to appeal to anyone under 18, and the paper used to do that all the time. I think there will always be — if not the same audience and not as wide an audience — a dedicated audience that can keep print journalism alive.
Now, we like Dave Eggers, a lot, but we have to emphatically disagree with his statements here. Children attending a writing center in San Francisco do not accurately reflect the entirety of the modern American youth. Not even close. Sure, we'd love to see web and print co-exist and thrive and compliment each other, but there is no trend suggesting such a thing is on the horizon. It just isn't happening.
Dave Eggers, we like you, we really do, but your staggering genius has failed you and you are horribly, horribly wrong.