Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Present of Journalism

I was going to entitle this the Future of Journalism, but then I realized, well, the future is now. Gary Weiss has an article over at Salon about Rupert Murdoch's attempt to buy the Wall Street Journal. But what it is really about is why Investigative reporting is dying if not dead.
Public ownership has been a disaster for newspapers not just because it invites hostile takeovers. Quite simply, much of what newspapers do has no clear investment rationale. Entire segments of the business -- such as foreign bureaus and investigative reporting -- are inimical to profitability, particularly when viewed on the quarter-by-quarter basis favored by Wall Street. Cramer nailed down the shareholder value view of the newspaper biz a few weeks ago, when he said, "These are diminishing assets. They don't need to exist. Younger people rarely read them."

Cramer is not wrong or cynical; he is simply being realistic and refreshingly free of hypocrisy. Viewed from a shareholder value perspective, the newspaper business is a dinosaur. And that is why the shareholder point of view needs to be eliminated from the newspaper business.
He's not wrong, and it's kind of a depressing state of affairs.

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