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Life, but not as we know it

10/01/2009

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There have been many articles on whether the print media are doomed. Some interesting exchanges are taking place on blogs at the present as to the future or lack of future of the venerable New York Times.

There are many in the blogosphere who seem to despise the NYT. Adam is not one of them. He has enjoyed reading the NYT in print form and latterly in electronic for many years. Amongst other things he commends the NYT for the digitization of much of their back issues and making that information so readily available.

Even if one disagrees with the editorial position of the NYT that is no reason to welcome it’s possible demise. In fact Adam tends to the view that as other papers fall by the wayside, the NYT may just be able to become more of national paper than a regional one.

The first article on the topic was this one by Michael Wolff at Off the Grid. The thrust is epitomized in this comment:-

I don’t know of anyone now—at least anyone who isn’t employed by the Times—who believes that the business, as currently organized and managed, can survive. If it had some chance of ignominiously limping along before the recession, that’s gone with its entire advertising base in freefall.

Wolff pointed in his article to this one by Michael Hirschorn for The Atlantic in a piece entitled End Times, which began:-

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. Most of these scenarios assume a gradual crossing-over, almost like the migration of dunes, as behaviors change, paradigms shift, and the digital future heaves fully into view. The thinking goes that the existing brands—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal—will be the ones making that transition, challenged but still dominant as sources of original reporting.

But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if TheNew York Times goes out of business—like, this May?

Then in a interesting article Hirschorn explores some of the issues and challenges, before concluding:-

Ultimately, the death of The New YorkTimes—or at least its print edition—would be a sentimental moment, and a severe blow to American journalism. But a disaster? In the long run, maybe not.

Obviously a topic of interest to journalists and others, the topic was then taken up by James Surowiecki in his business and finance focused blog at The New Yorker. He comments on the fact that:-

Felix Salmon has a smart riposte to Michael Hirschorn’s new piece in The Atlantic, in which Hirschorn provocatively suggests that the Times, at least in its print incarnation, could be out of business by May. Hirschorn’s obviously right that the newspaper business is in serious economic trouble, and that the migration of readers to the Web has serious implications for the production of high-quality journalism—as someone else argued recently. But as Felix says, because the Times is only losing a small amount of money at this point, and because it’s one of the few newspapers that has a national presence, “I think it’s pretty safe to say that the NYT is going to continue to exist in its present form for quite a long time yet.”

It might be appropriate to point out that Felix Salmon’s article appeared in Portfolio, which is a Conde Nast publication as is The New Yorker.

Salmon’s article is well worth reading in it’s entirety, as he takes Hirschorn’s earlier piece apart. Some might call the piece a riposte, others a demolition job.

The debate is an interesting one. To Adam’s mind one well worth following.

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  1. The Times they are a-changing « The Inquiring Mind

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