Print journalism is changing fundamentally. Three dramatic events last week make the point: On October 18, Newsweek magazine announced it will become a digital only publication in 2013, ending 80 years in print. Newspapers have failed, so far, to acquire the skill sets required for print journalism in the 21st century.
Slowly, slowly, the dwindling band of journalists who survive all the cuts are being acclimatized to the notion that their job is no longer to serve the people in our democracy -- a tradition proudly built up over the past couple of hundred years, often at great cost -- but to serve their employer. So why don't we, the people, take over -- subsidize our precious democratic journalism ourselves? Here's the plan.
Seems that when you spend an hour watching Canadian TV news stories about politics, you get only about 15 minutes of real information. These scary numbers come from the highly respected charitable Samara Institute today. Samara has spent months doing all the research, the number crunching, and the drawing of conclusions. Will the newsrooms listen? Probably not.
When the Mirror was launched in the mid-1980s, it touted its independence and social purpose. I remember going to benefit concerts and parties organized to help it get off the ground and survive. But it's been shut down, and I fear even an online version wouldn't be able to pay even the most abysmal of salaries, or even reassert itself as a go-to source for young Montreal anglos.
A former CBC colleague-turned-journalism professor very politely questions the ethics of my writing this column for HuffPost. Surely, he suggests delicately, the internet in general -- and aggregators like HuffPost in particular -- are killing traditional mainstream, general-interest journalism. And, in the process, seriously damaging democracy. My reply...?