Monday, May 11, 2009

Another Take on the Freefall of Print Journalism

In “The American Press on Suicide Watch,” Frank Rich becomes the latest in a string of New York Times columnists to discuss the sharp, sudden decline of the print new media. (Maureen Dowd seems to have been writing nearly exclusively about this for a month or so.)

On the one hand, he does not feel that this is necessarily the end of the world, talking about the strong resistance with which radio and movies initially greeted television, a resistance that would eventually fall and a reinvention of both that eventually occurred. On the other hand, he notes with concern that online readers don’t seem too keen on paying for news yet advertising alone will not cover the cost of serious news gathering by Internet-only organizations (indeed, he notes, that Google doesn’t pay for news (it merely links to other people’s news)).

In the process of making that argument, Rich also notes that the distinction between opinion that passes for much of news these days and real news gathering—as well as the impact of that effort on democratic societies.

As an aside, Rich notes a little-reported statistic in the broad media coverage of Twitter: that 60 percent of subscribers drop their subscription after a month. He doesn’t draw any conclusions, though my assessment is that Twitter—like much social media—is still in tire-kicking mode. People want to try it out to see what it’s all about, but we’re still a ways off from long-term, effective uses of it.

Read the full column at

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