Posted by: jackslife | August 28, 2009

“Free Market” Killed the Newspaper Star

Great article by Patrick Deneen on FPR about the continuing death throws of the newspaper, and the causes of that death.  The nationalization of news can certainly be credited with much of the problem.  Newspapers were at their strongest when they still had local ties.  There is a great quote from David Simon’s (creator of the HBO show The Wire) testimony before the Senate.  Here’s a clip –

High-end journalism is dying in America and unless a new economic model is achieved, it will not be reborn on the web or anywhere else. The internet is a marvelous tool and clearly it is the informational delivery system of our future, but thus far it does not deliver much first-generation reporting. Instead, it leeches that reporting from mainstream news publications, whereupon aggregating websites and bloggers contribute little more than repetition, commentary and froth. Meanwhile, readers acquire news from the aggregators and abandon its point of origin – namely the newspapers themselves.

In short, the parasite is slowly killing the host.

I think that he is right. One of the big fears that I have about the death of the newspaper is that many of the writers producing the quality content on the internet are employed by newspapers and the like. Certainly the content that can be called “news” is being produced by traditional sources. If we manage to put all of the newspapers out of business we will be left with a bunch of sensationalist paparazzi schlock and editorial pieces. We will not have any real news being reported. This seams like an environment prime for creating a misinformed populace that is controlled in an Orwellian fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend that you can take everything in the newspaper at face value, but at least you can generally call that information news.



  1. Why does it have to be either 1900’s dead tree newspapers or Perez Hilton? I think it’s much more likely that this “first-generation” journalism will eventually make the transition to the web rather than die out completely.

    • I agree. I think the key point from David Simon’s quote would be “unless a new economic model is achieved”. So far people have generally not been willing to pay for this type of content on the web, so until that new economic model surfaces I will continue to find the newspaper situation something to be concerned about. I don’t read the newspaper myself, so I certainly have been doing my part to kill the newspaper. 🙂

      • Maybe whenever that type of work becomes scarce people will be more inclined to pay, but there are plenty of businesses that manage to make it through advertising, sponsorship, affiliates, referrals, etc. Just like MP3s and Napster didn’t kill the music business, Craigslist and bloggers aren’t going to kill the news – they’re just going to have to adapt.

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