We have always argued that newspaper journalism is a distinct news environment worthy of preserving. That’s so evident when you compare print reporting with what we largely receive via radio and television media. Newspapers are where in-depth news and analysis, investigative reporting, diverse commentary can occur (as bad as they often do it, it’s still better than what we get from the TV networks). It’s evident that journalism is in crisis; newspapers especially. That’s why we have urged new legislation that would help remove publically-traded newspaper companies from the pressures of having to make shareholder value its first priority. More on this later. But we want to be among the bloggers who reflect on what Arthur Sulzberger just said to a writer from Haaretz:
“I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either,” he says.
Sulzberger is focusing on how to best manage the transition from print to Internet.
“The Internet is a wonderful place to be, and we’re leading there,” he points out.
The Times, in fact, has doubled its online readership to 1.5 million a day to go along with its 1.1 million subscribers for the print edition.
Sulzberger says the New York Times is on a journey that will conclude the day the company decides to stop printing the paper. That will mark the end of the transition. It’s a long journey, and there will be bumps on the road, says the man at the driving wheel, but he doesn’t see a black void ahead.”
Certainly, the Times isn’t going to stop publishing. But Sulzberger remarks must signal the need to see a more serious–and very public– debate about the future of news in this country. The FCC isn’t going to do it–caught as it is in the mindless notion that media consolidation and a closed Internet is good for the country’s press. J-schools are timid too often. That’s why more from academia, advocacy, journalism, philanthropy, and the Congress should speak up. Now!