Apr 1, 2009

Newspapers Must Die, Long Live Newspapers

Jack Shafer demolishes the "newspapers are essential to democracy" trope--a new favorite argument, as he points out, of some media critics who previously lamented the corporatist hegemony of old media.

The gist:
Media consolidation critics Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, who asked "Who'll Unplug the Big Media?" in The Nation a year ago, are back this week lamenting the demise of big newspaper journalism. They're calling for "tax policies, credit policies and explicit subsidies to convert the remains of old media into independent, stable institutions." I can't wait to hear the duo's pitch for a government subsidy to keep Rupert Murdoch's New York Post alive.

...I so love daily newspapers that I subscribe to four of them out of my own pocket, so please don't lump me in with the haters. But...I can imagine citizens acquiring sufficient information to vote or poke their legislators with pitchforks even if all the newspapers in the country fell into a bottomless recycling bin tomorrow.

Big media is getting unplugged, and with it a lot of smaller old-school media, as well. And, as Clay Shirky says, here comes everybody.

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