What is the Future of the Newspaper?
The Christian Science Monitor, which turned 100 this year, recently announced that it will cease daily publication next April. The newspaper will shift to a weekly print format while increasing its emphasis on its Web site. Against this backdrop, SSRC Program Officer - Minna Aslama hosts a new President's Question.
"The newspaper business is in crisis. The Christian Science Monitor announced last month that it would cease publishing a weekday paper, and staff lay-offs are becoming commonplace—not only at big metro newspapers, including the LA Times and New York Times, but also at many mid-sized papers.
While the situation is complex, the main issue seems to be that print journalism is no longer profitable. The crisis, in other words, may not strictly be loss of audience but vanishing advertising, particularly classified. Newspapers are responding by building online platforms that can provide information on demand and adding new (often Web 2.0) services.
Some see great possibilities in more widely dispersed Internet news media. They argue that it offers the potential of new audiences, new ways of storytelling, more immediacy and more citizen involvement. (On the last point, it’s worth noting that during the recent attacks in Mumbai, high-tech citizen journalists provided glimpses of what was taking place that transcended the news cycle.)
Others, however, see a crisis for the public sphere if we no longer have widely shared and authoritative news media. They fear that the move to the Web may lead to a general decline in the scope and quality of journalism, not because the online medium isn’t suited for news, but because it isn’t suited to the kind of profits that underwrite newsgathering.
Either way, the profession and public role of journalism seems to be in transformation. What are the implications for democratic politics, for social cohesion, for checking up on government, and for opportunities for different racial, ethnic, social movements or other constituencies to participate or be better served?"
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