Maybe good, maybe bad, depending.
The decline is really happening. This source, Tom Price for “A Primer on Media in the 21st Century”, Miller-McCune (July 9, 2009) reports the fact with no satisfaction:
Beyond cost-cutting measures like reducing staff, pulling back coverage and shrinking the size of their printed products, news organizations are sharing work with longtime rivals, using amateurs as volunteer reporters and moving heavily or totally online. They’re also turning to new and untested methods for raising income.
Amateur reporters: You do the work, then buy the paper. It doesn’t work, editors say – but why should it?
People don’t do things like that unless they are in serious trouble. If you take your kid to the dentist, does she ask you to be the chairside assistant to save money? Wouldn’t you say, “Hire someone qualified, and I’ll pay what it costs.” But that’s because you think your kid’s teeth are important.
Do you care much whether you get the Daily Fishwrap and Joe Schmoe for Mayor? Put another way, how did you find out about 9-11?About bin Laden’s death? In the face of the Internet, the problem for all traditional media is finding their niche.
Citing Project for Excellence in Journalism, Price notes,
Despite continuing circulation declines, newspaper readership may be growing because of visits to the papers’ Internet sites. Unique visitors to the Web sites increased about 16 percent during 2008, outnumbering the papers’ daily circulation. Web visitors add an average 8.4 percent to papers’ print readership, the report said.
News organizations have not figured out how to make money online, …
In other words, people will read it if it’s free.
Currently, news organizations are looking for ways to charge Internet users. The article doesn’t mention it, but a legitimate concern is that they may also seek or support legislation that gives the traditionals a dominant – and in this case, entirely unearned – position over against independents. See this initiative in Canada, for example. The take-home point is that, in the environment that the new legislation would
create, only really deep pockets could risk reporting the news. Paying ten cents a read is a tax snow angels by comparison to the threat of participating in hate crime.
Hint: Support Uncommon Descent. We are the new media.