Virtually all the predictions about the death of old media have assumed a comfortingly long time frame for the end of print–the moment when, amid a panoply of flashing lights, press conferences, and elegiac reminiscences, the newspaper presses stop rolling and news goes entirely digital. . . . But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business–like, this May?
But as Steven Den Beste notes:
Michael Hirschorn writes (regarding the impending demise of the NYT):
If you’re hearing few howls and seeing little rending of garments over the impending death of institutional, high-quality journalism, it’s because the public at large has been trained to undervalue journalists and journalism.
Ah, several things spring to mind in response to this. “Undervalue”? A thing is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and if “the public at large” considers journalism to be worth very little, then pretty much by definition they’re right, because they’re the ones doing the paying. The problem here is not that the public is undervaluing journalism, but that journalists have gotten into the habit of thinking that their work is worth more than it really is.
Which brings up the other point: “high-quality journalism”? It’s been a hell of a long time since any of that has appeared in the NYT. And that’s another reason why the NYT (and the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times, etc.) are losing circulation and money: they abandoned any pretense to “high-quality journalism” years ago, and the public increasingly won’t pay for what they’re offering instead. (That being “agenda journalism” aka “propaganda”.)
The big reason you aren’t seeing the public shedding many tears over the demise of the NYT is that we all know that they’ve dug their own grave. The impending demise of the NYT isn’t tragedy, it’s justice.
Fortunately, the media’s estate planning at least was remarkably prescient: their newly built mausoleum awaits them.