by maryann johanson, liberal movie person
Sun Feb 14 2016, 05:36pm | 2 comments
Newsprint is certainly dying. Even Murdoch’s trying to get out of it.
Unfortunately, the only significantly profitable newspaper web site I’m aware of (at least in the UK) is the Daily Mail, and nobody wants to be that. (Or at least nobody admits it.)
What is a newspaper for? For the classic audience it was a time-filler on the way to work; now they have phones. For short news, how is the Independent on-line better than the (free) BBC News web site? For “lifestyle” pieces, there are lots of sites out there already. Very few newspapers still do the sort of in-depth journalism (as opposed to rewriting press releases) that needs length and attention span, because they’ve assumed that most of their readers have no interest in anything more than the basics of any given issue. And they may well be right.
Well, the past 24 hours alone have proved (if there was ever any doubt) that there are vital news stories that we need to know about—even if some of them make us want to bang our heads against our desks. The Scalia story shows that we need informed, knowledgeable people to report on the legal and historical context: What does the law require people to do in this situation? What have people done in the past?
We need news reports to give us that sort of information. In the short term, people are willing to provide them for free. In the long term, I think, both the reporters and their audience will have to create a new model that makes sense financially. It’s just going to take a little while for people to realize how much they still need it.
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