Future Vision: Stop the Presses?

It is no secret that the newspaper industry is struggling. With the vast availability of free information on the Internet, the collapse of the classifieds market (thanks largely to craigslist.com), 24-hour news channels, and a plethora of other reasons, the once almighty broadsheets and tabloids have sunk to at least one knee; Baltimore and Seattle are both down to just one daily newspaper, and, as Michael Sokolove recently reported in the New York Times Magazine, both of Philadelphia’s dailies are in serious financial trouble. (This article, tellingly, and perhaps ironically, is not available online.)

The day looms ever closer that major metropolises will be without a local, paper-and-ink newspaper. For many, this prospect is troubling; not just for those, who, like myself, like the tactile and visual experience that only newsprint can provide, but also notion that not all aspects of quality, local journalism will survive the transition online. Local newspapers, robbed of their position as the community marketplace, still serve a vital role as municipal watchdog. It is local journalists that have the experience, network, and connections to truly understand the intricacies of our local government and society. Does the future of the newspaper industry have a place for the expertise, integrity, and traditions that made its heyday so impressive?

I, for one, hope so.


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