Out of Print, the death and life of the American newspaper, March 31 2008, The New Yorker.
After 300 years the American Newspaper seems to be nearing its final days, with the loss of advertisers, readers, market value (42% in the last 3 years) with the rise of the Internet, and the advent of such services as Craigslist which make the classifieds seem obsolete. The once high-margin monopolies of the newspaper world are now creating websites and profiting from online advertising, but at a fraction of the sales that have been lost from circulation print ads.
Columnist Molly Ivins claimed that the only way to save the newspaper was to make the product, smaller, less helpful and less interesting. Now people are spending far less time with their newspaper, and the readership is dwindling, with the average American reader fifty-five and older. The $450 million Newseum opened in the spring of 2008 in Washington DC, alluding to the fact that the newspaper is ready to displayed under glass.
Not only is readership falling, so is the public trust in newspapers, and media in general. A Sacred Heart University study shows that 9 out of 10 Americans believe that the media consciously seeks to influence public policies.
The Huffington Post has developed a new strategy almost accidentaly - that news is a shared enterprise between its producer and its consumer. Internet offers immediate information, commenting, and sharing, and is alive in a way that that a static paper cannot be. The majority of content is borrowed from elsewhere, what is the best version according to the editors, and repurpose with a catchy liberal-leaning headline and offer a commenting section. At the time the article was written the author states that over the past 30 days the unique visitors jumped to more than 11 million, and is the 9th most popular news site.
An excerpt from the article:
Lippmann and Dewey devoted much of the rest of their lives to addressing the problems they had diagnosed, Lippmann as the archetypal insider pundit and Dewey as the prophet of democratic education. Beyond the publication of the occasional letter to the editor, the role of the reader was defined as purely passive. The rise of what has come to be known as the conservative “counter-establishment” and, later, of media phenomena such as Rush Limbaugh, on talk radio, and Bill O’Reilly, on cable television, can be viewed in terms of a Deweyan community attempting to seize the reins of democratic authority and information from a Lippmann-like élite.
Duncan Black is quoted telling the viewers that despite the idea of a liberal myth, large ideas in the public are still not represeneted in mainstream media (such as the disapproval of the Bush campaign, etc). The rise of the internet allows liberal communities to flourish and allow for the Deweyan debate.
Alterman points out that classic newspapers spend far more on reporting than bloggers and internet news sites, and that while "real reporting, especially the investigative kind, is
expensive, they remind us. Aggregation and opinion are cheap."
Essentially, the blog world does not come close to to the seasoned expertise, and years of experience that traditional media has provided, and that internet media survives parasitically off of published newspapers. "And so we are about to enter a fractured, chaotic world of news, characterized by superior community conversation but a decidedly diminished level of first-rate journalism."