Having worked for a media company, I regularly read and comment on articles and blog posts about the future of newspapers. This morning I was about to rebut a comment by my friend Jay Moonah on a post titled “Google Not Optimistic About The Future Of Newspapers” by Mitch Joel on his blog Six Degrees of Separation, when I started to consider the value of the question. Why do we ask ourselves if newspapers will die? Why do we care?
I think most of us ask that question because of our society’s intrinsic affinity for newspapers. We grew up believing that the press is the guardian of democracy. That principle is deeply ingrained in us and for many of us it is embodied by newspapers.
What if this long lived belief is no longer well founded? This line of thinking, led me to a great interview with Bill Moyers, Chairman of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy by the magazine The Christian Century. These are some of Bill’s comments on the state of journalism in the United States:
“There's some world-class journalism being done in our country by journalists committed to getting as close as possible to the verifiable truth. Unfortunately, a few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape. And the news business is at war with journalism. Virtually everything the average person sees or hears outside of her own personal communications is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the company's share price. One of the best newspaper groups, Knight Ridder—whose reporters were on to the truth about Iraq early on—was recently sold and broken up because a tiny handful of investors wanted more per share than they were getting.”
Other than the fact that Bill is much more eloquent than I could ever be, I completely echo his comments. The situation in Canada is no different, most likely, even worse. The vast majority of newspapers in Canada are owned by three media conglomerates. I worked for one of them nearly 10 years and little mattered more than the shareholders.
Do we want newspapers to survive, or just the journalistic principles that offer us the protection we so dearly desire?
By: Jose Leal