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The end of newspapers and the decline of democracy

If newspapers were a baseball team, they would be the Mets—without the hope for “next year.”... Read more»

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8 comments on this story

Mar 24, 2012, 12:55 pm
-0 +1

I believe this article is overly pessimistic, and/or places blame in the wrong places.

Random bloggers aren’t the only ones fudging the truth and conveniently ignoring facts to get more views or push a particular agenda…the Arizona Daily Star does the exact same thing on a near-daily basis, and they’re considered a “real newspaper”...

Here’s the thing…regardless of the internet, or whatever super-duper future technology that will come along and replace it…people at large are always going to have a desire to know what’s happening in the world around them. This is true on a global scale, a national scale, a local scale. The smarter people are always going to seek out the most credible source for this information. And, even though journalistic integrity is a dying discipline, I personally believe there will always be a group of people dedicated to honest, thorough, honest reporting, and building a reputation as being a credible news-source. This was true with paper, it’s true of the internet, and it will be true with telepathic signals or whatever the future technology holds.

Newspapers may be dying, but journalism in itself is not. Journalistic integrity may not be practiced by as many as it once was, but I like to believe that it will always be practiced by some.

I believe the author of this piece is threatened by the information age. He wants what the ADS wants, which is an attitude of “this is how you should think, this is how you should feel, this is how you should vote”, and readers are just supposed to blindly do as they’re told. Well, thanks to the internet, those days are drawing to a close…and this author doesn’t like it at all.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read what is on wikileaks today…

Mar 24, 2012, 2:35 pm
-0 +1

@Bret Linden

Alterman wrongly conflates a dying medium with the information it is meant to convey.

Quality reporting is necessary to provide communities the information they need to make wise decisions. In the future, that isn’t going to be provided by a newspaper with a declining readership.

He also ignores the fact that daily newspapers spend 70+ percent of their cash flow (after profits, a margin that used to be in the 30 percent range) on physical production and distribution. Traditional newspaper publishers run trucking companies more than they run newsrooms.

Only 14 percent of a newspaper’s expenses are in the newsroom, according to a Moody’s study.

For an online news organization, the vast majority of cash flow goes toward reporting. If that organization is a nonprofit, like TucsonSentinel.com, there’s even more of the pie that goes directly toward the goal of quality journalism.

Mar 24, 2012, 3:05 pm
-0 +1

@Dylan Smith

Very good take Dylan. I like it when we agree, just because it happens to rarely :). News is news is news…what gets into our brains is much more important than how it gets there. Either this author doesn’t get that, or he ignores it.

I’m thinking perhaps this author penned a similar piece in the past, expressing his displeasure toward the demise of the buggy industry once the automobile caught on.

Mar 24, 2012, 3:28 pm
-1 +1

@Bret Linden

I wonder if Alterman sees any irony in having this column published on the website of the Center for American Progress, a left-wing thinktank. ; )

Mar 24, 2012, 3:55 pm
-0 +1

Neat picture of the statue of J. Hale Steinman in downtown, Lancaster, PA. He was publisher of Lancaster New Era and Intelligencer Journal.  Also owned TV stations, including KVOA-TV in Tucson early on.  (Or at least his family owned KVOA-TV).

Apr 3, 2012, 6:09 am
-0 +0

There’s a similar thing in my field:

The piano put the harpsichord manufacturers out of business. Now the advent of quality, low cost, DIGITAL pianos are putting the piano out of business and pianists everywhere are squawking.

Unfortunately for them, progress marches onward. The “old guard” laments. The public ignores them and continues to move into the future.

No wonder this clown laments the demise of his controlled news source. The Internet is the “liberty tree” of the modern day.

Notice how he cleverly manipulates statistics. We read in the first point how, once the money figures are manipulated for inflation, they are actually lower than the 1984 he quotes, supposedly to make you feel sorry for his newspapers. Whaaaa…(sound of tears falling!) He never does give the date that the manipulated money figure takes their profit back to. With this kind of “reporting” it’s no wonder folks are turning to the Internet.

Apr 3, 2012, 9:57 am
-0 +0

@Dan Starr

No disrespect at all, but I’m not sure your business is a good example. In my life I have actually seen people reading newspapers…

Especially growing up, I have spent a lot of time in malls. Quite often I would walk by the piano store and would never see a customer in there. I never understood how those places stay in business. I’m not pretending to be a doctorate of business admin or anything, but I do know that a business needs customers to keep going…right?

Apr 3, 2012, 10:18 am
-0 +0

Bret - and a tip of the hat to you, as well.

It is, as you’ve made clear, a conversation. Cool!

Yes, piano stores do need customers. Here in Tucson, we have had as many as five stores at once. Now we have two, which is more appropriate for a market this size. Still, my point is not relevant to the number of customers but to the march of new technology.

In that context, my comment is quite germane.

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