The Death of the News
If reporting vanishes, the world will get darker and uglier. Subsidizing newspapers may be the only answer
By Gary Kamiya
Feb. 17, 2009 | Journalism as we know it is in crisis. Daily newspapers are going out of business at an unprecedented rate, and the survivors are slashing their budgets. Thousands of reporters and editors have lost their jobs. No print publication is immune, including the mighty New York Times. As analyst Allan Mutter noted, 2008 was the worst year in history for newspaper publishers, with shares dropping a stunning 83 percent on average. Newspapers lost $64.5 billion in market value in 12 months.
All traditional media is in trouble, from magazines to network TV. But newspapers are the most threatened. For readers of a certain age, newspapers stand for a vanishing era, and the pleasures of holding newsprint in their hands is one that they are loath to give up. As a former newspaperman myself, like most of the original founders of Salon, I have a strong attachment to my dose of daily ink. I get most of my news online, but I still subscribe to both the local paper, in my case the San Francisco Chronicle, and to the New York Times. At parties and in casual conversations, speculation that newspapers might vanish like the dinosaurs that once ruled the earth spurs passionate jeremiads about the decline and fall of Western civilization.
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