Wednesday, March 18, 2009

three quick linx..

...on the future of journalism:

1. Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker (with whom I rarely agree) offers the following insight on the implosion of journalism as we once knew it. Read the whole column, where she castigates Rush Limbaugh and others, here.
The biggest challenge facing America's struggling newspaper industry may not be the high cost of newsprint or lost ad revenue, but ignorance stoked by drive-by punditry.
2. Go here to read San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll's reflections on the hangover from Saturday's vote on the new union contract. Call it melancholy:

I try to view this without nostalgia. Of course I grew up with newspapers; of course I romanticized them. My first day in the city room of The Chronicle, I felt like a prince of the realm, even though I was editing the crossword puzzle. But it seems to me that the death of newspapers would rapidly contract the world, even as the Internet is supposed to be expanding it.

Yes, we'll know about something cool that happened in Bangalore, but will we know about something uncool? Will we know about the problem with the sewer system? Would you click on that? No, but you might read it. And if you read a lot, then maybe you'd begin to have a visceral sense of the problems with the world's water supply, and what we might to do to help.

I know that if Britney Spears takes her shirt off in South Africa, I'll know about it. I am not at all sure that if four young protesters in Cape Town have their shirts ripped to shreds by bullets from police rifles, I'll ever know about it. That's what newspapers do: They connect, using the most accessible technology of all. People who do not have electricity can still have a newspaper.

And 3. Finally, go here to read about Nancy Pelosi's suggestion to the DOJ antitrust division "to look at the 'market realities' of competition in the digital age when reviewing mergers or 'other arrangements' of competing newspapers. The local angle? A collaborative venture that merges the Chron with the Merc, something that I've heard whispered more than once. Years ago, such consolidation would have sent shivers up and down the spines of anyone even tangentially related to journalism. Today, it's just one more sign of desperate -- and changing -- times.

From the story:

The Justice Department has traditionally been concerned that a merger of papers in the same market would give the surviving entity too much power to set prices for advertising.

Newspapers, however, have argued that the market for advertising is much broader, including online news and advertising competitors such as Craigslist, Google and Yahoo.

Antitrust regulators' other concern has been with preserving the number of editorial voices in a community. For that reason, when newspapers have combined operations in the past, they have been restricted to back office, printing, circulation and other non-news functions.

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