There’s yet another report on the newspaper industry failing and what to do about it. This one, from Linton Weeks of NPR, begins by talking about Romenesko, a blog on Poynter that brings up media stories. (Ironically, I found the story on Romenesko).
Because of the acceleration of dead and dying dailies in the country,Romenesko’s blog has turned into a scrolling roll call of bad news. He links to story after story describing the shifting journalistic landscape.
We don’t need to delve into Weeks’ possible solutions. They are simply bringing up ideas that have already been discussed.
What struck me is how correct he is that Romenesko is keeping a history of the demise of newspapers. Sometimes, I feel I am doing that too with this blog. It’s hard, really hard, to find positive stories on papers. Sure, we can say online readership is up. That only means less people want to subscribe because they know they can get it for free online.
The story does go deeper, looking at a possible future. Here’s the worst case scenario for newspapers, according to Rick Edmonds, the Poynter Institute’s media business analyst:
Eventually, if newspapers with national followings — and their Web sites — also go out of business, Edmonds says, “You’ll get your political news from Politico, world news from the BBC, entertainment news from Entertainment Weekly and your sports news from ESPN.”
And the best:
“Newspapers are able to get through this difficult time with a little more, but not much more damage, to their newsrooms,” he says. “The recession begins to make a turn later this year. The stimulus kicks in. Newspapers are successful at bolstering print. They find new advertising streams. They send digital editions to Kindle. And mobile devices.”
And some kind of mutated news-gathering organizations — print and online and other things — emerge from the swamp. But newspaper journalism, he says, “will never be as big again as it was in the golden years of the ’80s and ’90s.
Sigh. What do you think is the best and worst case scenario?
By the way, Weeks was an editor with the Washington Post for almost two decades but took a buyout in 2008. I wonder what he thinks the future holds for papers.