Monday, March 23, 2009

Way, Way Off Topic

The Ann Arbor News is dead. This will be bittersweet news for anyone who attended the University of Michigan. By the mid-1990s the News already seemed to be behind the curve, so one can only imagine how it's been dealing with things over the past five years or so. Brian at MGoblog, which/who is awesome and is what would have happened had David Foster Wallace said "Screw it. I'd rather blog about Michigan football than write 1,000-page epic novels", has more.

So here's the question: what's killing newspapers? Folks have offered the following explanations (and often amalgamated them):

1. Not charging for web content.
2. Explosion of web competition, which eliminates the ability to break news and is a brain drain (especially for sportswriters).
3. Craigslist and the annihilation of classified advertising.
4. The death and consolidation of the department store chains and the zillions of pages of ads they reliably bought.
5. Teh liberal bias.
6. The increasing vapidity of the American people.
7. Unions.
8. Arrogance.
9. Evil venture capitalist vultures who blew up newsrooms to try to make a profit.
10. The price of newsprint.
11. The evil recession.

What's pretty telling is that we're seeing one or two major newspapers close or implode or declare bankruptcy every week, newspapers that twenty years ago seemed darn near indestructible, and/but not a whole lot of people seem to care. And other than the excruciating employment implications for those directly affected, it's tough to construct a non-atavistic argument for why they should.

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