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No one seems to have told Mark Trail that journalism is dying

Oh, for a world where journalists wear ties and can't figure out how to use a smartphone. Oh, yes - it's in "Mark Trail"
Oh, for a world where journalists wear ties and can't figure out how to use a smartphone. Oh, yes - it's in "Mark Trail"

Ink-stained wretches should pray "Mark Trail" runs for decades to come. What other comic depicts journalists as well-adjusted, savvy and, most important, rich?

Take Tuesday's episode of the do-gooder environmentalist's comic, for example. Mark lobs a call into his old reporter buddy, Jason Smith at the "Journal." Which "Journal" is it? The Wall Street Journal? The Jersey Journal? The Louiville, Ky., Courier-Journal? The Peoria Ill., Journal Star?

The answer: None of them.

How many newspapers today employ people like this Jason Smith? With his balding pate, Smith looks to be at least 50 and Lord knows few of America's broadsheets and tabloids can afford to employ anyone over 32. What's more, this fellow seems unable to maneuver a smartphone, which he can't even manage to hold up to his ear - a clear detriment in the current mobile age. Worse, Mr. Smith appears to have his own office. Just look at the space being taken up by that mammoth green leather high-backed chair! Today's newsrooms squeeze five people onto a park bench, not luxury office furniture!

The only publication this Jason Smith would be working for in 2014 would be - and even that might be wishful thinking.

"Mark Trail" cartoonist Jack Elrod - if Jack Elrod is in fact producing fresh "Mark Trail' strips rather than letting his name grace a comic made slightly relevant by artists drawing smartphones into old episodes once populated by landlines - has always had a wonderful view of the people behind the press. Indeed, one wonders if the man has checked out Jim Romenesko's blog even once in the past eight years. Witness this recent depiction of life at Woods & Wildlife, the nature magazine that seems to resist today's omnipresent pressure on print publishers. In 2012, Trail was invited by his editor to take a trip on a "company yacht for a sort of "business and pleasure trip" that Trail could then write about for his employer - without being laughed out of the business!

Now compare that vision to the bleaker one espoused by the sundry writers of "Shoe," where the ailing Treetops Tattler-Tribune has been in danger of going under for months.

Oh, what we wouldn't give to live in Trail's world, a haven for shoe-leather journalists and beat-hugging reporters everywhere.

The newspapers that carry "Mark Trail" may go out of business soon, but the journalists who reside in the strip will always have a publisher flush with cash to transmit their stories to the world.

To reach the Comics Examiner,. email me at or follow me on Twitter @bristei

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