Sunday, January 11, 2009

Death of Newsprint

End Times by Michael Hirschorn

The thinking goes that the existing brands—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal—will be the ones making that transition, challenged but still dominant as sources of original reporting. But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?
And it will seriously damage the press’s ability to serve as a bulwark of democracy. Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.
Common estimates suggest that a Web-driven product could support only 20 percent of the current staff; such a drop in personnel would (in the short run) devastate The Times’ news-gathering capacity.

The benefit of a free press that also has resources to investigate is very important. I would think it would make sense for Google, Microsoft... to buy trophy media outlets if they were in danger. My guess is setting up some type of foundation might well make sense. The company that buys it would want to benefit from the purchase by having content to make money on, but I don't think they would want to manage the media outlet as part of their organization.

The exactly solution going forward is not easy to see. But some solution that provides for a free press with funding is important to any country and so we need to find a solution.

I also have no doubt the value of this to society is lost by many watching what passes for our free press today. With all sorts of useless, superficial, stories that mainly seem to just be splashy graphics, exciting sound effects, and almost no content. There is no loss to society if that goes away. There is a great loss to society if work of those like Bill Moyer's went away, Here is an example David Heath and the Seattle Times exploring congress hiding earmarks while claiming reform. This is the type of free press the founding fathers had in mind to check the power of corrupt government officials paying out public dollars to award those giving them checks and hiding those favors from public view.

Related: Programmable New York Times On the Way - Deming and the New York Times - Washington Paying Out Money it Doesn't Have - Time to start a newspaper by Seth Godin - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren

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