Newspapers Seem to Be Facing Four Wolves

May 25, 2009

If you are a former employee of a major newspaper, you will want to read the Open Democracy essay “Journalism’s Many Crises” by Todd Gitlin here. Mr. Gitlin does a good job of summarizing the plight of this business sector. For me, the core of the article was this passage:

Four wolves have arrived at the door of American journalism simultaneously while a fifth has already been lurking for some time. One is the precipitous decline in the circulation of newspapers. The second is the decline in advertising revenue, which, combined with the first, has badly damaged the profitability of newspapers. The third, contributing to the first, is the diffusion of attention. The fourth is the more elusive crisis of authority. The fifth, a perennial – so much so as to be perhaps a condition more than a crisis – is journalism’s inability or unwillingness to penetrate the veil of obfuscation behind which power conducts its risky business.

These wolves are not like to huff and puff. These wolves will devour. The senior managers are likely to escape. The unfortunate ones are those who have often devoted their lives to the newspaper.

Stephen Arnold, May 25, 2009


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