Jim Spanfeller Considers the Decline and Fall of Journalism

Question: What does the demise of print newspapers mean for journalism?


Spanfeller:    Well, I just said a couple ways of thinking about that.  The first is, it’s obviously not great, right?  The second or the second tear of that would be that I think… I keeps saying this all the time and hopefully I say it enough will come true is that there will be a place for as many or more professional journalists in the future than there are now or than there was 10 years ago.  Now, there’s going to be a troft in the middle of that while we go through these forward types of change.  And that’s going to be a very uncomfortable time for journalism and it’s also be very uncomfortable period of time for society because again if you think about it, a free press is on the corner stones of democracy and having less of that is fundamentally not a great thing.  So, you know, hopefully we’ll move through this period faster than not.  One of the issues we faced now is I think regardless of what happened in the environment from the financing standpoint, you would’ve seen a troft right, print it, newspapers are not the best form factor whereas at one point time they were in terms of delivering locally or in current news.  The web is you know, vastly superior for that mission and you can find that just what you want to find out, you can get it with information, it’s 5 minutes older, 2 minutes old, you can tell what that information so it’s always being fed to you in ways that you’re interested in and when you want it.  Initially, we can’t do any of that.  The issue that we fed though is that’s all been accelerated by the fact that the great many of the newspapers companies have and or facing very, very big finance issues.  They’ve been leveled it up over the last decade or two in ways that simply can’t tolerate a downturn economy to the extent what we’ve had and so that’s one of the reasons why you’re seeing as many recently you know, go chapter 11 or cease to exist or reduce frequency as you are and my guess is that’s not going to stop anytime soon.

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