Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The death of print

Print journalism is dying, fast. Newspapers have been declining for more than twenty years, and the recession, coupled with the continued growth of the internet, is bankrupting what remains of the industry.

The Christian Science Monitor will soon be online-only after a century in print. Time, Inc. is slashing its staff. Locally, the "Daily" Tribune will now be published just four days a week. I wouldn't blink if the News, the Metro Times, or any of our small local papers announce more major cutbacks or simply fold.

So what will replace them? So far, not much. Detroit's web-only media is rapidly expanding, from Model D to Detour to bloggers, but none of these are news organizations. Model D rounds up and writes positive news about Detroit; it won't tell you that the mayor's corrupt or the cops are underfunded. Among bloggers, only Detroit Blog does original reporting. His profiles are great -- who else would interview this guy? -- but he's no replacement for a beat reporter doing hard news.

The New York Times says the future may lie with small, web-only, non-profit journalism outfits. If so, I hope someone gives it a try here soon. As it stands, not only are the dailies totally inadequate, there are no alternatives online.

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