Ed Driscoll

"The Death Of Print Journalism: A Suicide?"

Venomous Kate writes, “When we were visiting the in-laws last week, I didn’t have internet access and actually found myself reading a dead-tree newspaper for the first time in several years”:

It was discomfiting to settle for poorly written stories that barely skimmed the surface of an issue while realizing that immediately educating myself further on a topic or reading a dissenting opinion wasn’t an option. More than once I found myself questioning statistics in a story about the election or the war but I couldn’t hop online to do some fact-checking of my own.

No wonder so many technophobes can’t discuss politics beyond sound bites and headlines, I found myself thinking. How can we ever consider our voting populace educated if they’re limited to merely accepting biased statements as “news”?

But therein lies the biggest limitation and turn-off for many readers: you either know and accept that a newspaper or news magazine has a political prejudice and will be running slanted stories that leave you in the dark or you assume you’ve got the full story when, in fact, you probably don’t. (And you know what they say about people who “assume” things.)

That’s the real change the internet’s brought to MSM: readers who are interested in the issues no longer have to depend upon a paper to decide for them “all the news that’s fit to print”.

Don’t understand the situation in Darfur, much less know where the place is? Hop online and read Wikipedia, then explore from there. Wonder why Conservatives think Obama’s secretly a Muslim when, after all, he attended a (possibly racist) church? Do some exploring and decide for yourself.

When you read the news online, additional information is just a mouse click away. When you read it in a newspaper or magazine you’re not just subscribing to their publication but to their political biases as well.

Having been through the whole Dan Rather/National Guard memo debacle in the last election, I know better than to trust the accuracy what I see in print. MSM’s political bias has, in my mind, become a given.

Judging by the drop in subscriptions and advertising revenue for print media, even people who don’t spend their entire days at the computer are starting to realize and reject this limitation, too.

So is this the beginning of the end for newspapers and news magazines in printed form? Quite possibly. But it might also signal a new beginning, too: that of the curious, self-educated reader. News organizations desiring to stay in business might want to take note and work with that. A good start: eliminating the annoying registration requirements and paid access to archives which simply send online readers looking for a more convenient source of news. An even better approach: stop fearing the blogosphere and start linking to it, instead.

Unless, of course, newspaper and magazine editors really are afraid readers will discover just how biased their stories are.

Indeed–although as I’ve written several times here over the years, increasingly journalists are quite happy to either (a) tell you their biases or (b) even if they don’t, let it all hang so far out that it’s obvious. And in a curious development that in a way is the final triumph of the Blogosphere–AP is encouraging its journalists to inject more of their biases into a story, not less.

Just the facts? That’s strictly Jack Webb and Dragnet ’66, dude.

Related: As for another mass media whose freshness date has long expired? “Some People Still Watch TV And Get What They Deserve.”