What We Lose When Newspapers Die

Models for reviving the newspaper industry continue to flood the blogosphere with today's Times roundtable of media experts including two Big Think guests.

Regarding the smaller papers which are folding like a line of dominoes, Columbia School of Journalism Dean and Nicholas Lemann notes, we should realize what we are mourning. Most small or regional papers did little more than deliver content. Quality, writ large, took a backseat and slipped across the board over the recent years of newsroom cutbacks. At the local level, sub-par writing was to some extent acceptable as town and city papers served as a vital conduit for public information. At the national level, not so. Any media consumer with a modicum of acuity will not shed a tear when USA Today, for example, folds. To the tumult over the imminent changes facing media, let's add another: the US is the only country on earth facing such a tide of newspaper shutterings. Could foreign models, where many papers are state-subsidized, readerships far more loyal, and viewpoints more politically diverse, mark a way forward?

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