Newspapers Collapsing with Economy

Originally posted to Galactic Roundtable discussion group, March 15, 2009.

Two snippets of articles on the impact of the economic collapse on newspapers. The second predicts the demise of investigative journalism. I had considered that that had more or less died some years ago, but nonetheless there will be even less.

Dying Newspapers Dying Nation

by William Gheen

March 13, 2009

From the New York Times to the Raleigh News and Observer, there are For Sale signs hanging on the doors of prominent newspapers across America with only a few buyers at hand.

While this must be very stressful for newspaper employees, editors and reporters alike, a large consensus of American citizens are waving and saying “goodbye and good riddance!”

Public trust for the contents of the American print media has reached all time lows. Most Americans who still read these papers have become adept at discerning the truth of what is happening by what is either distorted by the papers or what facts and perspectives are completely missing from articles like large elephants in the room.

Reading between the lines is what news consumers have been forced to do, as the ethics of journalism have been abandoned and many major print media institutions have become more concerned with attempts to politically indoctrinate their readers to fairly unsupported views, instead of telling readers what is really going on in our nation. <snip>

The Demise of Investigative Journalism

Russell Wild and Margaret Engel
Posted March 12, 2009 | 04:30 PM (EST)

The 20,000 journalism jobs lost in the past 18 months are flushing knowledge and experience out of American newsrooms, diminishing our lives and our democracy. The brain drain is exacting penalties that society may live to regret.

As professionals depart paid journalism, secrecy and corruption will flourish. Fear of public exposure is one of the few brakes on such behavior. The American Society of Journalists and Authors represents independent journalists, and our members are among those striving to pick up the slack in investigative journalism.

Veteran journalists are being pushed aside for beginning reporters without watchdog experience. What’s filling news holes are superficial events coverage and fast “content” production that’s farmed out to wire services, usually without reporters’ bylines. The Internet, with few exceptions, is not replacing newspapers and magazines in providing paychecks for investigative reporters.

It took the public months to learn that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because news outlets did not challenge the
administration’s story. The Associated Press reports that the Pentagon budget for public relations has increased by 63 percent since 2004 as it struggles for support of the Iraq war. The military will spend at least $4.7 billion in 2009, according to the AP. Imagine the challenge of journalists to get past the strength of this promotional marketing. If there’s something to uncover here, it likely won’t be discovered by a diminished press corps.

As financial support of serious journalism evaporates, reporters and editors will be reduced to chronicling the obvious, and dramatizing rather than digging. “If it bleeds, it leads” will become our society’s ticket to information. That is one slim newsfeed. <snip>

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