The decline of newspapers may be ugly

The world is much better with strong journalists.  Strong journalists keep everyone honest.  It’s been that way since our country was founded.

While I love consuming news online — I fear that the conversion will leave us in a very bad place.  I cringe when I hear about traditional newspapers cutting costs by slashing their editorial staff.  It’s the physical distribution that’s the problem — and overblown cost structures.  We do not have too many professional journalists in the country…  In fact, we have too few…

That’s why I read with trepedition today’s announcement by The New York Times that they have sold for the first time a banner ad on the front page of their paper.  CBS bought a 2 1/2 inch banner along the bottom of page one.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/business/media/05times.html?_r=3&ref=media

Is that so bad?  Not by itself, no.  But, it’s one of many steps that have and will be taken to shore up the financials of “old-style” jounralists.  What really needs to happen is for them to take a bold step into the new world — but it’s painful.  What’s next?  Will editorial policy be weakened to appease advertisers?  Will advertisements start showing up in the middle of article text?  Will jounralists be allowed a free hand to be critical?  One step at a time…

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