Megan McArdle At The Atlantic: ‘The Death Of Newpapers, Continued’

Full post here.

“The problem is, newspapers were losing business before the recession.  Newspapers have been losing business for decades.”

And she finishes with:

“And I just don’t think that in ten years, the newspaper business model will be able to support very many newsrooms of any size.”

And newer business models are being developed and tested as we speak.  I suppose it depends on where you’re sitting, but the technology is currently available to broadcast and discuss ideas on the web at next to no cost (not necessarily free).  I’m not convinced that the vital role of newspaper as responsible institution of its own….watching even more responsible institutions for the public good (political watchdog, finder of facts) won’t be filled by someone else.  Mickey Kaus has a good list here (scroll down) of some necessities.

I’d also argue (showing my political stripes, and perhaps nothing else) that aside from the business model and ad revenue problem, there is the ideology problem at the NY Times (and many other outlets, not all on the left).  They are drawing themselves within an ever narrower set of ideas with which to interpret and report on events.  I think there are other, deeper reasons for this.

Yet, the NY Times still offers value, and important ideas, and much of the blogosphere relies on the Times’ shrinking newsroom for their own success at the moment.

Also On This Site: Here in Seattle, Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die?..Who Reads The Newspapers?The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

Two previous two posts which have some links of interest:  From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers.

Add to Technorati Favorites

From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”

Full article here. (Once archived, it won’t be (F)ree)

Gladwell argues that “Free” is a kind of utopian vision, or at least as it appears in Chris Anderson’s new book:  “Free:  The Future of a Radical Price”   What’s being overlooked is the cost of actually gathering news and information, and the infrastructure required to do so:

“This is the kind of error that technological utopians make. They assume that their particular scientific revolution will wipe away all traces of its predecessors—that if you change the fuel you change the whole system.”

Yet, aside from this utopianism, should we go so far as to have the law step in…protecting news-gathering organizations to some degree?  

Gladwell finishes with:

“The only iron law here is the one too obvious to write a book about, which is that the digital age has so transformed the ways in which things are made and sold that there are no iron laws”

It’s still up in the air.

See Also:  Walter Isaacson’s piece in Time a while back:  “How To Save Your Newspaper,” that is, if it isn’t already a shell of it’s former self.

See Also On This Site: Posner makes the case for some legal copyright intervention: From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers? The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard

Add to Technorati Favorites

From The Becker-Posner Blog: The Future Of Newspapers

Posner’s post here

The argument isn’t bad:  we’re living off the fat of newspapers’ news-gathering abilities.  Such costly news-gathering was maintained by advertising revenue.  Online ad-revenue is not able to provide the same news-gathering depth and breadth.  So, at some point, all this free-riding may have to be addressed legally to protect some form of news-gathering:

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.”

No more free access!

I understand that there is more here in this post than just a conservative (conservare) impulse to maintain the institutions of newspapers for their own sake.  The free press is vital to our democracy, and journalism at its best is reaches highs that can maintain that freedom.  

Among other things, news organizations have allowed young writers to gain valuable experience and wisdom.  They have served as important social institutions, with obligations to the public good.   They can uncover corruption, hold the maneuvering of politicians to light of day, and inform the public, providing a bridge to the laws, law-making, and law-breaking…that affects us all.

At their best, they can even highlight injustices of which most men benefit by being aware (and I am a person as averse to the democracy-threatening idealism and over-zealousness that accompanies the pursuit of justice as you’ll find).

Yet despite all these abstract reasons…why do newspapers themselves need to be protected by such a top-down approach?

I’m not convinced. 

And as for news-gathering, won’t such needs be filled by other venues?

Related On This Site: Here in Seattle, Bill Virgin says newspapers built up their value, and slowly let it die: From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer Via Sound Politics: Why Did The PI Die? From Slate: Jack Shafer On The Pulitzer Prize-Who Cares?  Who Reads The Newspapers?

The Newseum Opens On The Mall: More From The Weekly Standard


 andertho

Add to Technorati Favorites