Tuesday, July 24, 2018


I think Athenae slightly exaggerates with her "nothing to do with the internet" take on the newspaper business's problems, but it was certainly was used an excuse before the internet really existed. "The internet will hurt us one day unless we change" was flipped to "the internet has killed us, dead, in 2003" and was stupid. I do think small local papers probably would've had problems even if perfectly managed and alt-weeklies, which once thought they were immune to the evil internet or even thrived on it, seem to have been killed by it. Of course we can always argue a bit about whether "newspaper" means print copy or just a news organization resembling what we think of as a newspaper.

But it's hard to believe papers in larger cities - LA, Chicago, Philly - could not have found ways to survive, and fairly easily, if not for various waves of mismanagement (yes all those cities still have papers, but they've all had their problems) and looting.

Shockingly, these things didn’t magically make the papers more money. In fact, they started bleeding readers, and the advertisers followed. You’ll notice I haven’t talked about THE DASTARDLY INTERNET yet. That’s because while all this was going on the Internet barely existed.

When it finally came to be, and mobile devices brought news to people wherever they were, news organizations were enfeebled, directionless creatures wounded by so many years of mistreatment that they couldn’t take advantage of a new medium even if they wanted to. And let’s be honest, a lot of the people involved didn’t want to take advantage of the Internet. They wanted to take a damn nap, and could you blame them really.