“Only about a third of Americans under 35 look at a newspaper even once a week, and the percentage declines every year. A large portion of today’s readers of the few remaining good newspapers are much closer to the grave than to high school.
… At the height of their success, all the best news organizations shared two important qualities: a strong sense of responsibility about their roles as providers of news and analysis, and plenty of money to spend on those missions.
… The money allowed for an extravagant approach to news … Editors and producers pursued stories that interested them, without much concern for how readers or viewers might react to the journalism that resulted.
… “How would this look on the front page of The Washington Post?” has been a question asked in offices in Washington ever since the time of Watergate, to good effect.
… The best journalism has most often been produced by those news organizations that have both the resources and the courage to defend their best work when it offends or alarms powerful institutions and individuals. The public may perceive journalism as an individualistic enterprise carried out by lone rangers of rectitude, but this is rarely the case. The best work is usually done by a team that has the backing of an organization committed to maintaining the highest standards of seriousness and integrity, and to nurturing talented reporters and editors … News organizations that can afford to support such teams are now at risk.
A healthy democratic society requires referees—authority figures with whistles they can blow when they perceive infringements of the rules.
… The Internet promotes fragmentation by encouraging the development of like-minded communities … The news media are fragmenting just as American society is fragmenting
… Even when journalists are allowed to pursue traditional reporting, the requirements of online journalism limit their opportunities to do so … There is much less time available to dig into a story and discover its ramifications … scores of city halls and state legislatures get virtually no coverage by any substantive news organizations.
… thanks to Internet offerings, the quantity of American journalism has never been greater.
A group of young people could be working in a Silicon Valley garage right now on an idea that could re-establish a healthy revenue stream for major news organizations … Efforts to save serious journalism enjoy one natural advantage: smart people playing influential roles in society know that they need good information about many subjects. It is conceivable that these citizens, who are a significant audience albeit a small fraction of the total population, will be willing to pay the full cost of the journalism they consume.
… Then in March 2011, The New York Times announced a paywall that required regular online readers to pay for its journalism, a risky gambit that has proven remarkably successful … It suggests at least the possibility that over time, consumers of news might follow the path of television viewers, who once thought—before the arrival of cable television—that TV was free, but eventually got used to paying substantial monthly cable bills.
… News as we know it is at risk. So is democratic governance, which depends on an effective watchdog news media.”