Journalists provide a valuable service while being systematically starved of resources.
One might think this loose-knit clan was perfectly adapted to the information age, being dedicated to recycling hot air.
But, in fact, quite the reverse is true. Just at the point at which it seems journalists are most needed, near extinction beckons.
For generations they eked out a precarious living on the fringes of society, but few now manage even this.
The development of the internet exposed a weakness underlying their traditional way of life.
Journalists, like all others in modern society, are only able to live by turning their work into money.
They too need food, shelter, heat, light and clothing for themselves and their dependents.
Journalists, therefore, rely on people valuing and paying for the filtered and replenished air they offer.
But, surrounded by enormous billowing supplies of hot air, few wish to pay for more, no matter how clear and affordable it is.
Some think journalism appears by magic. Some talk of the devil. Some think journalists are secret millionaires.
The end result is many members of the journalist clan are endangered, making a tiny fraction of what they contribute.
Though journalists are widely, and sometimes understandably reviled, there seems likely to be a price to be paid for their loss. ■