Newspapers Are Dead; Long Live Newspapers

"Newspapers are in trouble for reasons that have almost nothing to do with newspaper journalism," writes Paul Farhi. "Even a paper stocked with the world's finest editorial minds wouldn't have a fighting chance against the economic and technological forces arrayed against the business." Farhi says newspapers "remain remarkably popular" but suffer from "the flight of classified advertisers, the deterioration of retail advertising and the indebtedness of newspaper owners." The Internet, he maintains, has expanded newspaper readership while sapping "newspapers' economic lifeblood. The most serious erosion has occurred in classified advertising, which once made up more than 40 percent of a newspaper's revenues and more than half its profits. ... Craigslist and eBay and dozens of other low-cost and no-cost classified sites began gobbling newspapers' market share a few years ago. What they didn't wipe out, the tanking economy did." In the same issue of American Journalism Review, journalism professor Philip Meyer writes that economic pressure will transform today's general-audience newspapers into "The Elite Newspaper of the Future," offering "analysis, interpretation and investigative reporting" to "the educated, opinion-leading, news-junkie core of the audience" who "will insist on it as a defense against 'persuasive communication,' the euphemism for advertising, public relations and spin that exploits the confusion of information overload."