Newspapers are still a major primary source of news and information, but their business model has been put into distress, largely due to the internet. Can they survive, or can the internet or other media assume newspaper’s old role? The Century Foundation’s Peter Osnos takes a look on blog The Daily Beast. He notes that floundering print outlets create opportunity elsewhere, but so far the internet that is undermining the traditional advertiser-supported news business is not producing a new funding mechanism. What local news there is on the web is coming from shoestring operations running mainly on donations. He suggests accepting the reality that news may become more and more a public service, supported as are PBS and NPR. Another suggestion is for internet companies to find ways to funnel money back to prime information sources like major newspapers. He also suggests re-establishment of “the principle that news has to be paid for by someone: the consumer, the advertiser, or the distributor.”
RBR/TVBR observation: That’s the big trick, isn’t it: Getting people to pay for that which they are now well used to getting for free. And we aren’t too keen on the idea of all news being funded with taxpayer money – what would the reports out of Illinois look like right now if Gov. Blagojevich did in fact have a say on the composition of the Chicago Tribune editorial board? Osnos is right that there is a vacuum developing, and with it is developing opportunity. But we don’t think he’s come anywhere close to describing how it will eventually be filled.