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They Saved the News Today, Oh Boy….

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Did you miss John Kerry's super-duper Senate committee hearings on "The Future of Journalism" yesterday? You can click the link for the gory details, or jump to the statement by Thurston Howell III John D. Rockefeller IV:

But what happens when our watchdog grows mute and can no longer bark?  When newspapers, slice their staff and slash their news operations?  What happens is that we all suffer. […]

In this new evolving world, trusted sources, adhering to the fact-checking mores of traditional journalism, are often too few and far between.  The important and time-consuming work of investigative reporting may lack the institutional support it needs to thrive.  Uneven access in to the Internet in some communities is a trouble that needs to be addressed.  And then there are the unquantifiable losses.  The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure, I fear, our next generation will not know.

Or maybe you want to read, um, Arianna Huffington's testimony [pdf]? Or just get the navel-gazing straight from the source….

Me, I prefer my cranky friend and newspaper new-media pioneer Howard Owens, who is busy spearheading a fascinating community-journalism experiment at The Batavian.

Why didn't I watch Senate hearing today? Because I'm busy working on journalism's future, not worrying about it's past. […]

There's a whole host of proposals out there to "save" newspapers that any real capitalist should find not only laughable but horrifying.

Let's be clear: If a newspaper can't compete in the free market it's not worth saving. If a newspaper needs aid from the government to survive, it's not worth saving.

A newspaper is a business, just like any other business. It's not a church. It's not a social services agency. It's not a civic organization.  It's a business.

When a business model is broken, or a strategy is flawed, or time has just passed it by, that business—even whole industries—die. It's a process of evolution. It's necessary for the ecosystem of society.

Journalism will not die, though every newspaper might stop printing and some companies that now spew ink to tell the news will cease. Journalism will not die. […]

The only thing that will save journalism is the free market. Any other solution will lead to ossification and ultimately will greatly damage democracy, because citizens will become only more jaded and distrustful of a press that through government-backed monopoly power suppress entrepreneurial competitors. […]

I shouldn't have to compete against media companies that are given government favor through changing anti-trust laws or granted special privileges.

The free market should decide what journalism will be in the future, not some gray-haired Senator or government bureaucrat.

NEXT: Majority Support for Marijuana Legalization?

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  1. I was wondering when someone was going to comment on this latest embarrassing and painful hearing. I caught the spectacle live and especially enjoyed the democracy-doomsday picture that was being painted. Also that sinister laugh everyone on the committee made when the cranky guy from The Wire said it would be a heyday for corrupt politicians.

  2. But, if the next generation can’t get ink all over their fingers, what will we become?! We might all go online where people share ideas in seconds rather than take all their news from one source. How can we survive with that much freedom and involvement in our world? I shudder to think.

  3. AMEN! Sing it, brother Owens.

  4. Bless the media for preventing the growth of government and the diminution of liberties. And for its increasing lack of overt political bias.

  5. I can hardly wait to curl up on the couch on a Sunday morning with the paper version of NPR. Be still my bleeding beating heart.

  6. And then there are the unquantifiable losses. The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure, I fear, our next generation will not know.

    What is this guy, 70? I don’t know anyone who subscribes to a newspaper.

  7. “I don’t know anyone who subscribes to a newspaper.”
    What, are you 14?

  8. Let’s be clear: If a _______ can’t compete in the free market it’s not worth saving. If a _________ needs aid from the government to survive, it’s not worth saving.

  9. I don’t subscribe to a newspaper, but I do pick up my neighbor’s to read. He and his family abandoned their house a few months ago.

  10. “The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure, I fear, our next generation will not know.”

    I feel the same way about the joys of having just brushed your teeth in the morning and standing on the front porch in your robe and lighting up a Camel.

  11. In this new evolving world, trusted sources, adhering to the fact-checking mores of traditional journalism, are often too few and far between.

    When I ran for office, my entire profile in the local rag came from my Facebook profile. No phone call, no email, just inferences based on my favorite TV shows, flair board, etc. This is the “local investigator” whose loss I saw being lamented during the hearings.

  12. A newspaper is a business, just like any other business. It’s not a church. It’s not a social services agency. It’s not a civic organization. It’s a business.

    No shit. Ben Frankin went into publishing to make a buck, not improve the culture.

  13. And then there are the unquantifiable losses. The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure, I fear, our next generation will not know.

    Uh yeah. That’s like saying. Sorting through piles of old unsorted books, written in various languages and in various states of dilapidation for weeks at a time while searching for a particular tome because you read in a hundred year old document once that the author mentioned it being here. Having the sum total of human knowledge available on your Kindle just isn’t the same is it grampa?

  14. It’s OK, Rockefeller, the internet is a pleasure your generation does not know. We left you behind, you old fart.

  15. Plus, the faster the industry collapses, the sooner it’s ironic nostalgia-driven revival will occur.

  16. I want my Newspad, and I want to have to climb into my house from the roof to disable HAL at least once a quarter.

  17. Newspapers will be around in a future, but it’s only a matter of time until the format changes and it’s just something people upload to their Kindle? readers in the mornings.

  18. No Kindle! Newspad! HAL! Moonbase! Cheeseburger!

  19. Shouldn’t “reporters” be ashamed that politicians are trumpeting their craft?

    Do we need any more proof that the MSM are simply advocates for statism?

  20. Do we need any more proof that the MSM are simply advocates for statism?

    I know this was a rhetorical question, but, no. We actually don’t need any more proof.

  21. If the newspapers go away, what will the homeless wrap themselves in at night? What will I use to line my bird’s cage.

    What the hell will I wrap my fish in, and start fires with?

    I demand a government bailout!

  22. Isn’t this a rerun from when the broadcast networks needed protection from cable? Ted Turner had a cameo in the Congressional production IIRC.

  23. Newsprint is great for cleaning glass, as well. And what of confetti? What of confetti?

  24. What is this . . . newspad . . . that all the hop cool kids are talkin’s bout?

  25. It’s the Kindle from 2001, Naga.

    Oh, I also want a monolith for the front yard.

  26. Where was Congress when I was trying to save Jericho from CBS’ stupidity, huh?

    Oh wait, Jericho was actually about a group of people who could make it without government intervention, so they didn’t actually WANT to save that. Newspapers, on the other hand, work to make sure you can’t live without Big Brothe…err…Uncle Sam to tell you everything.

    Screw the papers. The web is the future of news, and it’s cheaper. In all fairness though, I’m biased. I’m the partner on a political blog, so I have my own biases…that are grounded in reality.

  27. Oh, I also want a monolith for the front yard.

    Who doesn’t?

  28. TWO DOLLARS!!!

    I want my two dollars!

  29. Newsprint is great for cleaning glass, as well.

    Coffee filters. Get the generic, giant pack of coffee filters.

    Oh, I also want a monolith for the front yard.

    You don’t have one? If I had a front yard I would have one and would be laughing at you too!

  30. A newspaper is a business, just like any other business. It’s not a church. It’s not a social services agency. It’s not a civic organization. It’s a business.

    When a business model is broken, or a strategy is flawed, or time has just passed it by, that business – even whole industries — die. It’s a process of evolution. It’s necessary for the ecosystem of society.

    Lemme guess, not a big Obama supporter…

  31. I love newspapers and printed matter of various kinds. I don’t look forward to a world where everything come in electronic format. I like things that do not require electricity. I am sort of a fetishist like that.

    But none of that means that the universe owes me a newspaper.

  32. Whatever happened to ticker-tape parades?

  33. In this new evolving world In the current media landscape, trusted sources, adhering to the fact-checking mores of traditional journalism, are often too few and far between.

    Dear lord, if newspapers fail, where oh where will the anonymous sources be able to political spin and disinformation???

    Who will keep the legacy of “Some people say …” reporting alive and well?

    Really, the only concern I have with the demise of the newspaper industry is that it will be harder to find local coverage of city hall, and various other council meetings, etc.

    But seeing as though newspapers aren’t even doing that very well these days, I am sure someone will fill that void.

  34. Speaking of monoliths, here’s the modern remake of 2001:

    http://www.baddaystudio.com/2001remake.html

  35. “I don’t know anyone who subscribes to a newspaper.”
    What, are you 14?

    I’m 25 and the only people I know who subscribe to newspapers are my parents age or older.

    Newsprint is great for cleaning glass, as well. And what of confetti? What of confetti?

    Think of the children! Without fishwrap, how will they make shitty papier mache (sp?) sculptures?!

  36. I love newspapers and printed matter of various kinds. I don’t look forward to a world where everything come in electronic format. I like things that do not require electricity. I am sort of a fetishist like that.

    I would second this. I really don’t like reading on electronic mediums (monitors, tvs, Kindles) anything longer then a couple of paragraphs.

    But then again, I can always send what I want to read to my printer and read it on paper.

  37. Newsprint is great for cleaning glass, as well. And what of confetti? What of confetti?

    And lining Kitty Litter boxes too. It absorbs so much cat pee, I can put off changing the litter and extra 2 days.

  38. I would second this. I really don’t like reading on electronic mediums (monitors, tvs, Kindles) anything longer then a couple of paragraphs.

    Just curious: have you tried a Kindle? I was skeptical too, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quite easy on the eyes. I agree with you on pretty much every other electronic device.

  39. I would second this. I really don’t like reading on electronic mediums (monitors, tvs, Kindles) anything longer then a couple of paragraphs.

    But then again, I can always send what I want to read to my printer and read it on paper.

    You could start your own newspaper. Maybe call it something unique, like the Chicago Sun-Times Tribune Daley News Tom News.

  40. I don’t know anyone who subscribes to a newspaper.”

    What, are you 14?

    I’m moving toward the ugly side of my forties and I don’t currently subscribe to a paper (how quaint) nor do I know any people– or knowingly know anyone who subscribes to a paper.

    I also don’t own an in-home phone… I’m cellular all the way.

    And for the record, I consider myself a relatively slow adopter of technology.

    What I’m trying to say is, the writing’s on the wall.

    So let me break it down for you, in terms of systems:

    When anyone wants to implement a system, and that system can be technological, social, managerial…any system whatsoever, (in this instance, subscribing to a paper) the first question that you have to ask is: What do I need and not have now, that I will have and continue to need after said system is implemented? If you can’t come up with something clear, concise and obvious, implementing said system is just a big fat waste of time and resources. I’m looking at you middle managers.

    I get nothing positive from having 40lbs of paper dropped on my doorstep every day, or hell, even every week. Except a full recycle bin. And I don’t like recycling.

  41. I would second this. I really don’t like reading on electronic mediums (monitors, tvs, Kindles) anything longer then a couple of paragraphs.

    But then again, I can always send what I want to read to my printer and read it on paper.

    But ChicagoTom, that means you’re making the decision what gets printed, and what stays electronic. My guess is you don’t print what you want on paper, and also add another 300 pages of adverts and coupons.

    It seems to me that modern journalism wants to choose what gets printed for you. And that would be everything.

  42. With the Kindle?, I’m just waiting for the price to drop…it does seem easy on the eyes.

  43. I get the Community News automatically mailed to me like everyone else in my town. I sometimes read it. It’s free. Unlike my neighbor, I see no reason to A) pay for the Times Union newspaper that I can read online for free and B) let it sit in my driveway for three days before throwing it in the recycle bin with the other two editions that also sat in my driveway.

  44. Just curious: have you tried a Kindle? I was skeptical too, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s quite easy on the eyes. I agree with you on pretty much every other electronic device.

    I haven’t read on the Kindle, but I have read on the Sony ebook reader. It wasn’t terrible, but it was odd. I suppose given enough time I would adjust to it. For me the background wasn’t bright enough to provide enough contrast.

    I have heard Kindle users say that although it was an adjustment for them at first, they got used to it and liked it.

  45. I get my news by waterboarding it out of the paperboy every morning.

  46. Paper has its uses. I did a New York Times crossword on my computer, but now I have ink marks all over my monitor.

  47. With the Kindle?, I’m just waiting for the price to drop…it does seem easy on the eyes.

    With the kindle and the Sony ebook reader, the biggest beef was that the ebooks were propriatry.

    My friend who had the ebook reader was a Mac-o-phile, and the Sony software that you had to use to purchase books only worked on Windows. There were also some glitches in that the ebooks he was downloading (through their software) would just freeze mid download.

    I would hate to lose access to my library of books if I decided to go to a different hardware platform.

    I also wonder about past purchases. With a physical book, I can throw it in a box or on a shelf, but with digital, I have to maintain backups of them myself on digital media.

  48. CT,

    I’d like both. Thousands of books and the Kindle. Where is my Kindle from Reason, by the way? Surely I won it.

    The problem for publishers will be, of course, peer-to-peer books.

  49. No doubt, some books are definitely worthy of being kept as a physical copy.

  50. Let’s be clear: If a newspaper can’t compete in the free market it’s not worth saving.

    Why, that’s preposterous! What would happen if we took that attitude towards other industries, like banking, energy production, or auto manufacturing? We left whale oil and buggy-whip industries up to the free market, and look where they are now!

    -jcr

  51. This isn’t about reading your news from paper or the Kindle. It’s about having people who are paid to write the truth. When your livelihood depends on your integrity, you are more likely to be honest.

    If nobody pays for the news, then nobody will pay journalists. Anybody care to speculate on what will happen to the the quality of journalism at that point?

    I don’t know what to do – how do introduce some business model that generates revenue – but I do know that the closing of news organizations is a bad thing.

  52. No doubt, some books are definitely worthy of being kept as a physical copy.

    Word. They’re easier to burn.

  53. I don’t know what to do – how do introduce some business model that generates revenue – but I do know that the closing of news organizations is a bad thing.

    Victor, I think the argument here is not that “the news” is shutting down, but it’s changing. And it’s pretty apparent some people don’t want it to change.

  54. Ok, so I have another opportunity to be an obnoxious pest and ask, “who won the drawing for the Kindle2s?”

    Whoooooo?

  55. Plus a book has some sort of resale value.

  56. A book has resale value?

    Really?

  57. jsh,
    “I get my news by waterboarding it out of the paperboy every morning.”

    LOL!!

  58. /This isn’t about reading your news from paper or the Kindle. It’s about having people who are paid to write the truth. When your livelihood depends on your integrity, you are more likely to be honest.

    In the name of all that is Good and Holy, I hope you’re being sarcastic.

  59. but I do know that the closing of news organizations is a bad thing.

    Howso?

  60. When your livelihood depends on your integrity, you are more likely to be honest.

    Like this reporter, for example?

  61. A book has resale value?

    Really?

    50 cents is value!

  62. Where is the LoneWacko novel? How is it coming along? Is it going to be available on Kindle?

  63. The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure

    My computer makes rustling sounds too, especially when I come here, but my eyes never dance across the page. They do roll upward in exasperation, however. Does that count?

  64. 50 cents, woo!

    I was gonna say, if books have resale value, somebody should inform college bookstores.

    “Sure, we’ll buy back your old books!”
    OK, here’s my mint-condition Campbell’s Biology for which you charged me $240 8 months ago. What’ll you give me for it?
    “Ten bucks!”
    Fuck you, man, I’ll keep it.

  65. Which is why I have two shelves full of Biology, Calculus, Physics and Art History texts from my college and grad school days.

    I’m living under some strange impression that I may someday use them in the homeschooling of my children.

  66. Oh, and to the point.

    Newspapers suck. Let ’em die.

  67. Think about this idea that newspapers are necessary because they cover city hall and are watch dogs against corruption. If that is true, why then are cities like Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles who have big newspapers also the most corrupt. If newspapers are a watchdog, they sure aren’t doing a very good job of it.

    Newspapers long since sold their souls to the leftist agenda. They only cover things that further that agenda. Fuck them. Let them die. Whatever replaces tham can’t be any worse than what we have.

  68. Where is the LoneWacko novel? How is it coming along? Is it going to be available on Kindle?

    …and will it be available in Spanish?

  69. The LoneWacko novel is in progress. Remember, contributions are welcome, but the best time to create one is after he shows up on a thread.

  70. …and will it be available in Spanish?

    Por que no te callas.

  71. “who won the drawing for the Kindle2s?”

    Probably two Reason editors. Scandal!

    Or better yet, and I think someone already mentioned this possibility: LoneWacko and Lefiti.

  72. Epi,

    What thread is it on? I lost track 🙁

    MDNA,

    Everything is available in Spanish on The Google Universal Translator. Less babble than Babblefish.

  73. Walter Pinkus of the WaPo wrote a pretty nice piece talking about the problem with the current state of newspapers and reporters.

    Some highlights from the article:

    My profession is in distress because for more than a decade it has been chasing the false idols of fame and fortune. While engaged in those pursuits, it forgot its readers and the need to produce a commercial product that appealed to its mass audience, which in turn drew advertisers and thus paid for it all. While most corporate owners were seeking increased earnings, higher stock prices, and bigger salaries, editors and reporters focused more on winning prizes or making television appearances.

    We have also failed our readers in the way we cover government. The First Amendment not only guaranteed freedom of the press from government interference, it also gave American journalists the opportunity-I believe the responsibility-to find and present facts on issues that require public attention. Our press is not protected in order to merely echo the views of government officials, opposition politicians, and so-called experts. Too often, though, that’s what occurs.
    ..
    Meanwhile, we have turned into a public-relations society. Much of the news Americans get each day was created to serve just that purpose-to be the news of the day. Many of our headlines come from events created by public relations-press conferences, speeches, press releases, canned reports, and, worst of all, snappy comments by “spokesmen” or “experts.” To serve as a counterpoint, we need reporters with expertise.

    I believe most corporate owners of newspapers made terrible business decisions over the past decade, thinking that the growing profits of the 1980s and early 1990s would continue. Chains paid excessive prices for family-owned papers and went deep into debt. The New York Times Company finds itself in trouble after paying $1 billion for The Boston Globe, over $2 billion to buy back its own stock at the height of its price, and another $600 million for a new building.

    it’s a long piece, but it’s a pretty interesting read (even if I dont agree with everything he says)

  74. CT,

    That ‘reporter’ should get sued by Mary Tyler Moore productions for stitching together so many Lou Grant plotlines.

  75. I have a solution to this problem, one that will also be good for the environment. Full immersion virtual reality newspapers. With haptic interfaces to simulate the feel of the paper and sounds effects to simulate the rustling. One can also choose the setting–a Viennese cafe, a comfy couch, an office on the Moon, in the lap of a hooker in a Vegas brothel.

  76. Think about this idea that newspapers are necessary because they cover city hall and are watch dogs against corruption.If that is true, why then are cities like Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles who have big newspapers also the most corrupt. If newspapers are a watchdog, they sure aren’t doing a very good job of it.

    This is kind of an odd argument to make.

    Rooting out corruption is like playing whack-a-mole. Every time you get one 2 or 3 more pop up.

    I could easily assert that those major cities would be EVEN MORE CORRUPT if there wasn’t the newspapers.

    In Chicago alone, the Chicago Sun Times has been integral in exposing a number of scandals by the City government.

    Furthermore, you aren’t really trying to assert that small towns aren’t as corrupt as big cities? Big cities may have bigger budgets and more competing interests and more opportunities for graft and skimming and kickback, but small towns are just as corrupt. It may be on a smaller scale, but thats because of economies of scale, rather than the inherent less corruption of small cities or the failure of the newspapers to curb it.

    I don’t think that “newspapers” are necessary, but journalists covering the goings on at the local government level is absolutely necessary.

  77. Por que no te callas

    I’m partial to “callate lo pinche boca”.

  78. “Furthermore, you aren’t really trying to assert that small towns aren’t as corrupt as big cities? Big cities may have bigger budgets and more competing interests and more opportunities for graft and skimming and kickback, but small towns are just as corrupt. It may be on a smaller scale, but thats because of economies of scale, rather than the inherent less corruption of small cities or the failure of the newspapers to curb it. ”

    Maybe so. Perhaps cities are corrupt in spite of the best efforts of newspapers. But at the same time, I see cases like the LA Time refusal to cover the story of the mayor banging the newsbabe and wonder if maybe they don’t do such a good job.

  79. Maybe it was joe.

  80. Maybe it was joe.

    And maybe another sublimated legend/pioneer.

  81. And maybe another sublimated legend/pioneer.

    Like Cesar, or Juanita.

  82. But at the same time, I see cases like the LA Time refusal to cover the story of the mayor banging the newsbabe and wonder if maybe they don’t do such a good job.

    I am of the opinion is that government (all government at all levels in every country) is corrupt. What I would ask of my local media would be to try and expose as much as possible and to make it as difficult as possible to get away with it. I agree that they don’t always do such a good job.

    I just don’t see anyone doing a better job — and at this point Ill take whatever I can get 🙂

  83. From Chicago Tom’s link:

    While engaged in those pursuits, it forgot its readers and the need to produce a commercial product that appealed to its mass audience, which in turn drew advertisers and thus paid for it all.

    I call bullshit. If anything, newspapers have focused too much on appealing to a mass audience and advertisers and ended up with a bland inoffensive product. Basically, it’s “The News, without out all that mess News”.

    Locally, one of the largest advertisers in our paper is the HEB grocery chain. You can get plenty of HEB coupons in the paper, but if you want to read about what a crappy employer they are, you’re SOL.

    Almost every city has a radio station that pretty much prides itself on playing music so tame and weak that none of your co-workers will complain about you playing it in your cubicle at work; American Newspapers have become the information equivalent of Easy Listening.

  84. And then there are the unquantifiable losses. The daily promise of unfolding a newspaper, rustling its pages, and letting your eye dance across the page and survey its offerings is a pleasure, I fear, our next generation will not know.

    This is exactly the reason why we should all rally behind the automotive bailout as well. Because, I fear, our next generations will never experience the pleasure of starting their cars with hand cranks.

  85. Because I’m busy working on journalism’s future, not worrying about it’s past.

    It’s my hope that in its future, people will know the difference between a contraction and a possessive.

  86. …Then there’s this Welsh Rarebit wearing some brown underpants
    …About the stortage of grain in Hertfordshire
    Everyone of them knew that as time went by they’d
    Get a little bit older and a little bit slower but…
    It’s all the same thing, in this case manufactured by
    Someone who’s always umpteen (…)
    Your father’s giving it diddly-i-dee district was leaving…
    Intended to die (…) Ottoman…
    (…)…Long gone through…(…)
    I’ve got to say irritably and…
    (…) Floors, hard enough to put on (…) Per day’s md in our district
    There was not really enough light to get down,
    And ultimately (…) Slumped down
    Suddenly…
    They may stop the funding…
    Place your bets
    The original
    Afraid she’ll die (…)
    Great colours for the season
    Number nine, number nine
    Who’s to know?
    Who was to know?

  87. My oldest son has total faith in the Microsoft Word spellchecker and never questions it. Last night, he misspelled “Allies” (as in WWII Allies) and allowed the spellchecker to correct it as “Alias.”

    That’s the future of journalism.

  88. Pro Lib,
    You wish
    Ths iz teh futr ov jrnlizm.

  89. No, no, Warren, that’s just the kids’ second language. When they are drafting official or formal pieces, they’ll get their grammar and spelling from Microsoft. In fact, as the AI gets better, they may let it draft the whole thing.

    The other future of journalism is wholesale plagiarism. Or should I say present?

  90. The spelling of the English Language was not always uniform. It may change again – texting may initiate some of that change.

    Try to read Geoffrey Chaucer in the original spelling sometime

  91. I am of the opinion is that government (all government at all levels in every country) is corrupt.

    And yet, oddly, ChicagoTom, you very rarely bring yourself to call for a reduction in its size and scope, and frequently argue for its expansion.

  92. If that is true, why then are cities like Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles who have big newspapers also the most corrupt. If newspapers are a watchdog, they sure aren’t doing a very good job of it.

    Newspapers long since sold their souls to the leftist agenda. They only cover things that further that agenda.

    That’s a weird example to concoct out of thin air, considering that the Detroit paper just won a Pulitzer prize for singlehandedly bringing down the corrupt Democratic mayor.

    You know, I’m not surprised when political hobbyists tend to view the whole world through the prism of politics. But good God is the whole “liberal bias” thing overblown by conservatives. Even if every single bit of political coverage in every single media outlet has a leftist agenda, covering politics isn’t the only thing, or even the primary thing, that media outlets do.

    We’re about to lose a whole lot more than political reporting, biased or not. I don’t understand why that’s such a gleeful prospect to so many here. Hell, even sports are gonna be a lot less fun without the big press pack in the middle of it all.

    I just don’t get all the glee. Yes, the Internet has dramatically altered the information landscape, and is killing the profitability of journalism. I guess that’s “exciting” on some level, the way kicking over a sand castle is exciting when you’re 7. But we’re also losing something big, and it’s kind of sad.

    I mean, we’re on the verge of not having news anymore. Isn’t that weird and disconcerting to anybody but me and a couple of dudes upthread?

  93. Matt, thanks for the post.

    Tim, there’s knowing the difference and actually noticing. Thanks for noticing. It is a huge mistake that totally de-legitimizes the entire point.

  94. “I mean, we’re on the verge of not having news anymore.”

    On what basis do you make that claim? Just because a job isn’t being done in a traditional way does not mean that job will not get done. This is a bit like someone in the candlemaking business yelling at Edison and saying “We’re on the verge of not having light at night anymore!”

  95. This is a bit like someone in the candlemaking business yelling at Edison and saying “We’re on the verge of not having light at night anymore!”

    That would be a relevant analogy if I’d claimed we’re on the verge of not having information anymore. But that’s not what I claimed. Clearly information ain’t going anywhere.

    So in making that analogy, you’re essentially begging the question. The yelling-candlemaker analogy holds up only if you’ve shown that news production will remain. And you haven’t shown that.

    The evidence so far is on my side: News production is shrinking, and the shrink is accelerating.

    Right now, there are a bunch of human beings who spend their days gathering information about the world, molding it into concrete recitations, then distributing those recitations, with accountability.

    Most of these human beings perform this task backed by institutional power: a news outlet’s name. That power opens doors to access, coaxes sources to talk, and discourages those sources from conveying lies.

    What’s happening right now is that those institutions — and that power — are crumbling. And those human beings are moving on to do something other than spend their days doing the task I described above.

    OK, so when all of those humans are no longer doing it, which ones will? When all of those institutions and their access-power are gone, which ones will there be?

    How is it going to suddenly work for some new array of humans, some new array of institutions? It’s not as if the current array has some specialized, exclusive talent. There’s nothing preordained about them. They’re simply the ones who happened to be doing the task. But now it’s being shown that the task is not sustainable.

    In other words, it’s not about them. It’s not about “our journalists” or “newspapers.” That’s just arbitrary stuff. Ultimately, it’s about that task — news.

    All the evidence right now is in favor of my claim: that the news will be disappearing. The Internet has been a plank in mainstream American society for more than a decade now, and news-gathering has only become less sustainable. There’s no transformation underway to some other “model.” The Internet has turned news into an economic public good, and it faces the same market dilemma faced by all public goods.

    That’s why the government is poking its nose into the whole thing; government can sustain a public good. But we sure as hell don’t want government in the news business, and I’m presuming that government won’t end up in the news business. And that’s why I think news is on the verge of disappearing.

  96. Citizen reporting is taking up a great deal of the slack. Private citizens with video cameras, cell phone cameras, eyeballs tenacity and blogs. Sure, such reporting requires more skepticism on the part of the end consumer but this is a HEALTHY thing. People should not look at any report from the mainstream media as a credulous Ovis aries. As Reuters has demonstrated in its Middle Eastern reporting, they can be guilty of fudging reports as easily as any citizen reporter.

    The bottom line is this, the reason people are fleeing traditional news sources is not just because the Internet exists but because they have not been doing their jobs in the first place. I like the feel of paper in my fingers. I would love to buy a New York Times at my local Starbucks and reading drinking my late. I can’t bring myself do it – I don’t trust it. So, instead I bring my laptop and read Drudgeport, Strike-the-root and antiwar.com while drinking my late. They only have themselves to blame.

  97. You can get plenty of HEB coupons in the paper, but if you want to read about what a crappy employer they are, you’re SOL.

    I do not employ anybody and I do not give discounts either 😉

  98. ‘Tis a minor problem, Howard. Good luck with the project.

  99. Tom (5/7, 8:46PM)

    Dead on. Journalism has to remain a profession, and free news makes that difficult to sustain. We’re in what I hope is a socio-technological hiccup. We have to figure something out, because bloggers and cell phone cameras are not the answer. I think the gov. should provide quick relief while we as a society figure out a more robust solution that is fair and sustainable, while making sure that journalists can make an honest living.

    You get what you pay for.

  100. Somehow, in the day’s before Cable TV, CBS, NBC and ABC all had decent news broadcasts and the end consumer didn’t pay a dime for it. It was paid for by this magical thing called advertising. Advertising can be profitable on the Internet as well. The problem is you need a product that people want to see. Mainstreem media outlets simply do not provide a quality product anymore.

  101. Ummm…isn’t everyone missing the obvious here? The news is not disappearing. There are sources of news other than newspapers. And I’m not talking about bogs. For example, there’s TV. TV reporters are journalists too. They investigate just like newspaper reporters. That isn’t going away. With today’s numerous channels, I am sure you can find whatever you want to hear about, at just about any time.
    This crying over a product that is failing because PEOPLE DON’T WANT IT is silly. From the non-journos it seems to be a matter of “boo-hoo, the world is changing and I don’t like it.” What are you people, 60? And as to the sobbing journos, they are just rationalizing their fear and self-interest. After all, they can’t very well say that their real concern is their own jobs. No, they have to go on about how “something vital is being lost.” Sorry, no. There will still be news, even if your source of news is becoming a big FAIL.

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