Well, the times they are a-changin’ again. We are seeing a sea change in how people around the world receive their news. We’ve seen this before. While no one living today recalls a world without newspapers, there are people alive who recall a time before radio news and television newscasts. There are people alive today who remember when there were many newspapers in town and not just the one local paper that is the norm today. Most of us recall a world without national cable news, CNN, and USA TODAY. We can’t neglect to remember the role of news magazines in the past as well, such as TIME and Newsweek. Each of these evolutionary moments in the world of news caused us to adapt and adopt multiple ways of getting our daily local, national, and international news fix. I’ll admit here that I am a complete news junkie; I read 2–5 papers a day while listening to CNN and other TV news channels. I also, of course, receive enough newsfeeds in my RSS reader and email to choke a horse, or a modem.
In recent months we’ve seen the corporation that publishes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, among others, move into bankruptcy protection. We’ve seen The New York Times go through severe financial pain, offering to mortgage or to sell its new Manhattan headquarters. The Christian Science Monitor is discontinuing its paper edition this year. The January 2009 issue of PC Magazine will be its last in print, going online only in 2009. Mass layoffs continue in the book, news, magazine, and other media industries as advertising markets soften. Even National Public Radio has been affected.
In addition, hand-held devices such as the Kindle and iRex are turning into wireless news subscription tools. One report put out by financial ratings firm Fitch predicted that by 2010, some cities will not have daily print newspapers. "Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print local newspaper by 2010." As for broadcast media, it was recently divulged that YouTube receives 13 hours of video every single minute! That’s a lot of video, and a portion of that is news or news commentary. Think about how influential YouTube was in the recent American elections ("I can see Russia from my porch!"). All of these facts force a rethinking of the fundamental underpinnings of the news industry—and that’s not even addressing the citizen blogger and the role of individual news reporting and commentary from people such as Matt Drudge, Perez Hilton, and the bloggers of the Huffington Post.
A graph from a recent Gallup survey indicates, among other things, changes in just 2 years of the news-reading behaviors of people as they move away from dependence on local television news (from 55% to 51%) and local newspapers (from 44% to 40%).
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