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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, March 24, 2006

The slow death of US newspapers.

Our favorite Texan, Molly Ivins, says that a good part of what's killing newspapers is self-inflicted.


That Molly

We haven't posted a photo of Molly Ivins in a long time. Here's a nice one.
[Photographer unknown]

So we're looking at a steady decline over a long period, and many of the geniuses who run our business believe they have a solution. Our product isn't selling as well as it used to, so they think we need to cut the number of reporters, cut the space devoted to the news and cut the amount of money used to gather the news, and this will solve the problem. For some reason, they assume people will want to buy more newspapers if they have less news in them and are less useful to people. I'm just amazed the Bush administration hasn't named the whole darn bunch of them to run FEMA yet.

What cutting costs does, of course, is increase the profits, thus making Wall Street happy. It also kills newspapers.

Aside from my own sentimental attachment to newspapers, I have no objection to all of us shifting over to the Internet and doing the same thing there. You'd still have the two big problems, however: A) How do you know if it's true? And, B) how do you put a lot of information into a package that's useful to people? If newspapers were just another buggy-whip industry, none of this would be of much note -- another disappearing artifact, like the church key. But while Wall Street doesn't care, nor do many of the people who own and run newspapers, newspapers do, in fact, matter beyond producing profit -- they have a critical role in democracy. It's called a well-informed citizenry.

We are in trouble.

Ivins has a lot more to say on the subject. And, given the effects that the recent sale of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain is going to have on the news available to those of us in the US, we strongly suggest reading the whole thing.

Via AlterNet.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:44 PM | Get permalink




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