On the death of newspapers


(Photo by laffy4k/Flickr)

I am pretty interested in (what is left of) the future of the newspaper industry. I grew up thinking I would be a columnist for The Plain Dealer, perhaps a Bob Kravitz or a Dick Feagler. I bailed on the newspaper industry in 2003 when it was clear that they didn’t 1.) Want to grow a younger audience, which I wanted to help them reach 2.) Know what they were doing on the Internet, which would have been where my humor column lived. I left for the tech industry and eventually started my own Web site, which you are reading. I have no regrets.

To this day I remain fascinated by the demise of the newspaper industry. How was this pillar of everyday life reduced to economic irrelevancy? And what will take its place?

A couple of great discussions/ideas/theories have popped up recently that I would like to share:

1. Former newspaper guy and media honcho John Walsh talked at length about the news business with Bill Simmons on the 3/27 episode of Simmons’ podcast The B.S. Report. Simmons also had an in-depth discussion about the demise of newspapers with author Chuck Klosterman in a two-part series on 3/12 and 3/13. All three episodes are worth a listen.

2. Slate’s Jack Shafer has a great piece on the very familiar 1918 newspaper crackup.

3. This article from Reason takes a look at news sources that are replacing newspapers.

I plan to write about this at length. I have an optimistic take. I think newspapers will be replaced by smaller, more efficient news-gathering organizations. It is the way all industries evolve. They do more with less. It just isn’t pretty how they get there.

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