Whither the newspaper?

Watching the implosion of the U.S. newspaper industry is like watching an impending car wreck in slow motion: You can see it coming, hear the tires squealing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.


Perhaps that’s an ill-fitting analogy, or at least overdramatic (indeed, some would say the death of print has been exaggerated), but the point is nonetheless the same: The demise of metropolitan dailies, which has been building at least since 2004, has suddenly accelerated in the past few months and now especially just in the past few days. Columbia Journalism Review nicely summed up the relevant lowlights and links from the week that was:

The Rocky Mountain News published its final editionRIP.

The San Francisco Chronicle might well be next.

So might the Philadelphia Daily News.

And could an online site replace Chicago’s dailies? (And how much are blogs actually worth, anyway?) While Newsday announced it’s going to start charging for Web content (making the blogosphere snicker), and Google News lost its advertising virginity (making the journosphere quake in fear), big media outlets dipped their toes into outsourcing to localnews sites. And the Times dipped its toe into local citizen journalism. Connecticut outletswrestled over local ownership. And Minnesota papers got a $238,000 grant to retrain their journalists.

Should the Times monetize its platform by sharing it with other outlets? Could kitemarksoffer an answer to the monetization problem? Does it all come down to supply and demand?

Everyone was all a-Twitter about microblogging. We talked about how we’re sick of talking about it. And then we talked about it some more. And then we got advice from it. BriWimocked it. Mark McKinnon felt betrayed by it. And a new twerncalular is emerging. But don’t use those twerms too often: using Twitter probably means you’re narcissistic. Or insecure. Or both.

Oh, and the Grey Lady was embarrassed by a blog.


Or, if you prefer this real-time narrative of newspapers’ demise in story form, Howard Kurtz provides a good recap.

Meanwhile, to dig a little deeper into the structural issues of newspaper journalism’s problems, this sometimes raw but utterly insightful post by Whet Moser is a must-read. The essence is captured in this sentence: “This is what happens when journalists stop being polite, and start being real.”

Indeed, let’s get real.

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March 2009

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