Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Death of Newspapers...and Journalism?

Ever since I went to college, I've been getting the San Francisco Chronicle delivered daily. I could never understand why everyone didn't get a newspaper every day. It was incredibly cheap, and it had the written equivalent of a long novel's content every day: News, features, sports (my favorite), entertainment, comics, classifieds, etc. And that was before you even counted the special weekly sections like food, automotive, real estate...right to your door, before you were even awake.

I think I paid something like $15 every three months. What an amazing deal. It's almost surreal when you think about it. All stuff for around 25 cents a day? What an amazing country we lived in.

I just got the notice for my most recent three month subscription. It's about $65 for three months. It's no longer an amazing deal. I'd be better off picking one up for 75 cents out of the box occasionally while reading most of the paper online. Yet, I continue my subscription every month, even as reports continue that the Chronicle, like almost all other metropolitan newspapers, is a sinking ship. Even the Gray Lady, the New York Times, just laid off 100 reporters, after laying of 100 last year.

I know it's free to read them online, but here's the problem: Nobody's figured out a way to make money off that yet. So the newspapers desperately reorganize, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Meanwhile, journalism schools go kaput. Bloggers are the new journalists. Can you imagine taking someone's blog seriously?

What will happen if all the newspapers go out of business? I shudder at the thought. Will there be any more journalism, or just "news organizations," both television and online, broadcasting their own biased talking points?

I don't have a solution to this. I'm this close to dropping my subscription myself. I'm aware it's a changing world, and maybe journalism can change with it. As a former journalist myself, though, I am extremely concerned.

People already have enough trouble obtaining information without a filter. I'm terrified of a time when we won't even realize the filter's there.


David Liebig said...

Reportedly, some professional bloggers pull off like $122,000/year. But you have pretty much captured here the the disheartening consensus of the four Journalism professors I've had so far.

Jess and Terry said...

Are you reading Andrew Sullivan? He is more optimistic about the future of journalism, and he's also a sane conservative. Fond memories of that Journalism class too.

Megan Maguire said...

Since when do newspaper reporters practice unbiased journalism? The New York Times, LA Times, and Wall Street Journal all have very distinctive biases that are just as noticeable as those of Fox.