Saturday, February 07, 2009

When Will Your Metro Paper Go Belly Up?

Yesterday, in the short span of 15 minutes, I came across two posts that really brought home for me the dire straits much of the newspaper industry finds itself in.

First, Dave Winer's Twitter comment on Michael Turro's piece at [in plain sight].

Then, Nick at Will Not Be Televised notes Editor & Publisher's report that the parent company of the Kansas City Star may not survive the year outside of bankruptcy court.

While Winer says newspapers should accept that they will soon expire, like the big record labels and the shrink wrapped computer software industry, I don't see it happening with lightning speed. More likely there will be accelerated consolidation until all the major dailies in this country are on the hands of a very few media giants. Of course there will be drastic changes in the way they do business, but papers like the Star would remain attractive properties for these media giants as they would be useful, powerful tools for manipulating governments at every level and dictating the terms of public debates.

Such a situation could represent a serious threat to our democracy because it could reinforce and entrench a generational bifurcation between a minority population of young, high-information early adopters of technology and an older majority population still dependent on low-tech legacy information channels controlled by a handful of special interests.

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