"[A]nti-Capitalist Societies Have [Newspapers], But Only in the Sense That Grigory Potemkin Had Villages"

A great line from Megan McArdle's recent article on newspapers and their "pivot to dust."

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


A slightly longer excerpt, though you should read the whole article (from the Washington Post, Jan. 26):

No, the journalism business is wedded to capitalism through and through; capitalism just seems to have tired of the arrangement.

And like anyone else whose spouse is losing interest, the industry has tried — oh, how it has tried! — to win back capitalism's affections, with more makeovers than a Hollywood starlet. As usual, this didn't resolve the underlying problem: The main competition for ad dollars now comes from massive tech companies that don't produce content at all.

Journalism isn't going away, exactly. There are business models that work, largely two: funding by donors or wealthy owners willing to operate at a loss, or subscriptions. But those models can't support all the journalism now being done. The number of donors doesn't magically increase just because more are needed. And subscription models have limits, because most people can only afford a few at a time.