This is not to say that nothing happened on the floor. There were folks watching software demos, and more than one set of shoulders was bent toward the table for serious business talks. Virtually every vendor that I spoke to said that they were likely to attend next year.

One thing you’ve got to give the newspaper industry: it has an amazing capacity to whistle past the graveyard. The white elephant of a workable online revenue model never managed to wholly distract from the excitement editors felt when talking about multimedia platforms their reporters could use, or the hope of publishers when they compared notes on the latest addition that got their Web site a million page views. The vendors continue to come up with newer, faster, cheaper equipment. The iceberg’s either growing wider or has already been hit, but the wine is flowing and the band plays on.

Michael Meyer is a CJR staff writer.