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The topic at breakfast downtown this morning was the cutbacks at the N&O – and consolidation with The Charlotte Observer.

“Society and democracy took a hit this week,” one friend said. He believes the cuts mean less competition among the papers, less news coverage and less scrutiny of government.

“But the papers have to face economic reality,” my other friend said. She believes that newspapers have to face tough times, just like other companies. Journalists need to stop whining and figure out ways to do their jobs better.

He said, “The people most likely to lose their jobs are the more senior and experienced reporters and editors.” He thinks that hurts the quality of coverage.

She said, “There are a lot of energetic young reporters.” She also said that blogs – by reporters and others – already are filling the gap.

He and she both agreed that the cuts are demoralizing to people who work at the papers – and give us our news every day.

And they agreed that reporters and editors will have less time to do the kind of talking, listening and poking around that is essential to good journalism.

He is pessimistic about the problems. She is optimistic about the opportunities.

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