We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

And now the end is near….

…and so they face the final curtain:

“Current estimates are that 700 of the 1,400 US newspapers will be out of business by the end of the next decade..”

Things have gotten so bad that the situation has even inspired a grass-roots effort of the kind usually aimed at curing deadly diseases, saving endangered species, or freeing the unfairly imprisoned: Today has been designated America’s “National buy a newspaper day”.

Their friends will say it clear, they’ll state their case of which they’re certain:

I don’t think it’s overstating the problem to say democracy is at stake.

But there were times, I’m sure you knew, when they’d print off something not quite true. But through it all, when there was doubt, they’d make it up and churn it out. The record shows, the public chose….

Tinsley says she’s optimistic that “after a period of markedly less in-depth reporting, the public will realize what it’s missing and the market will respond with a solution.”

….to do it our way.

24 comments to And now the end is near….

  • Oh how sweet it is. The world is moving on and the mainstream media is going the way of the horse drawn carriage. I for one will shed not a single tear.

  • They used ‘gotten’. That non-word should get them exiled from print forever.

  • Perry, come on, ever tried to swat a fly with a laptop? [chuckle]

    How do you spell creative destruction?

  • Laird

    I presume that you’re British, Leg-Iron. “Have gotten” (not merely “gotten”, as you stated) is correct American usage (in an article about American newspapers), and is a past participle of “get”.

    As in “get over it.”

  • Nuke Gray!

    Like everything else, they should put their hands in for a subsidy. It was alright, in spiderman’s day, for a newspaper editor to say, “Why doesn’t he sue someone, and get rich? That’s the American way!”. The new way to get rich is to be spoonfed by the government! If you can spell B.A.I.L.O.U.T. you could get a lot!
    Why doesn’t Samizdata.net apply for money? You’ll look suspicious if you don’t!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Leg-Iron, it is a bit late to complain about Americanisms; you sound like a Frenchman bleating about “le laptop”!

  • The accuracy and depth of newspaper reporting is poor, and this has been the case for a very long time. In the days when there were few alternative sources of everyday information, we put up with this (but generally didn’t like it). And yet the people who write for them still have such a sense of self-regard that they believe the opposite. This is one reason why newspapers are dying so fast as print publications, but is even more the reason why they have generally failed at founding viable web based businesses.

  • It says a lot about this state of affairs that I prefer International Talk Like a Pirate Day(Link), and believe that it achieves more

  • ian

    I suspect that ‘gotten’, like fall for autumn is a former English usage that has fallen out of use here, but persisted in the US – but so what?

    You say tomato…

  • Tanuki

    “Newspapers” are really history-papers.

    For me, the progress of a story is typically:

    1] Read about it on Bloomberg/Reuters/Google News during the day.

    2] Hear/see more about the story on the TV/radio in the evenimg.

    3] By the time the ‘news’-papers print it the next day, it’s history!

    (I’ve not actually bought a newspaper for over a decade).

  • Millie Woods

    Leg-iron, on this, the western side of the Atlantic gotten is OK usage but whilst isn’t. I won’t go into an eye-glazing over account of what is known in linguistic circles as colonial lag but it is a phenomenon found in languages used in the former European colonies where Portuguese, Spanish, French and English are spoken. Usages which came to predpminate in the mother counries never made the journey to the new worlds which accounts for many of the differences. Mother countries types like to get snotty about this but hey we let them have their teeny weeny moment of superiority.

  • K

    The US papers are now mostly advertising vehicles. Three or four days each week they are devoted to a special activity. Groceries, furniture, real estate, automobiles, etc.

    In a weakening economy these don’t lure customers. Even groceries are not bought as often or in as much variety. People buy more in bulk to get a lower price.

    As far as content is concerned, most US papers long ago gave up news gathering. It is costly. Instead they have a network of news suppliers who send them text which is printed with few changes.

    The left and activists and government agencies are smarter about feeding prepared content to the media.

    That is why the local papers consist of government departments and activities being mentioned favourably, every school and school teacher and principal is admirable, and every green protest is noble.

    The left believes in the power of the media and people who lean left seek employment there. Conservatives often view such work with disdain.

    The public realizes the wide spectrum news media is useless now. And they are aware of the bias. Yet, habits die slowly. The half-life is about a decade, maybe less, for media as we have known it.

  • RRS

    Is it not possible:

    People read less – and miss more.

    People listen more – but hear less.

    People view more – but absorb less.

    People take longer at schooling – but learn less.

    Fish being more expensive, are no longer wrapped in newsprint (nor are fish and chips).

  • RRS

    Tanuki -

    Everything that is not now or next is History.

  • veryretired

    Large cities used to have several newspapers, even dozens in different languages in the case of New York or Chicago. During the same period, there were also hundreds of stables, feed stores, and buggy wheel makers.

    Newspapers are an 18th and 19th century technology. They are slow, cumbersome, expensive, and based on a societal model that no longer exists in the so-called 1st world in the 21st century.

    Very few people understand the enormity of the transitions that occurred during the turmoil and violence of the 20th century, but, in a very real sense, the world changed more in that hundred years than the previous 500 or 1000, the age of exploration notwithstanding.

    The newspaper, like the newsreel, or vaudeville, or radio as it was in the 1930′s and 40′s, has passed through its day in the sun. It mirrors the same process being endured by those in the music business, for example—something that was limited and proprietary, as news from around the world certainly was, is now available and very, very inexpensive compared to historical costs.

    Something, or a combination of things, will replace them, just as they did the town crier.

  • VR: true. However, there is one kind of news institution that doesn’t seem to be going the way all the others in that field are going, and that is news agencies. They are the ones that have the monopoly on news gathering and distribution, and so far I don’t see any alternative player capable of competing with them, let alone replacing them.

  • veryretired

    Alisa, I agree that the various world-wide news agencies are still very powerful, but only because the remaining newspapers, television networks, and other periodicals still depend on them so much.

    During the 1930′s and 40′s, one could say the same thing about the makers of the newsreels that were shown along with movies at the local cinema—very few people had the ability to travel to obscure places in the world and send back films of wars, floods, earthquakes, etc.

    Today, this situation no longer exists. As an example, the tidal wave of a few years ago in SE Asia. Dozens of videos made by ordinary people, vacationers and residents, flooded the internet (no pun intended) long before any “official” news organizations were able to even fly over the area, much less get people on the ground.

    As for war news, Yon, Totten, et al are much more informative and non-ideological than the tripe put out by the AP or Reuters.

    There is no monopoly on information any longer. Even more importantly, the gatekeepers in the media are now as impotent as the guards at Checkpoint Charlie were once the Wall was knocked down around them.

    This diffusion of information and information sources may very well be one of the greatest liberating forces in hman history, if we can maintain its current (generally) unobstructed movement.

    As the problems in China demonstrate, for one glaring example, that task is complex, and will require constant vigilence and strong efforts to fend off the continuous attempts by those around the world who “know what’s best for us” to control and filter out information and ideas they don’t want the citizenry to know about.

    A few hundred years ago, the vast majority of the people on Earth knew little about anything other than the small area they lived and worked in. Most were illiterate, and their lives were more likely ruled by superstition and nonsense than by any factual information about how the world worked and what might be going on in other parts of the globe.

    We most definitely have an enormous and complicated journey ahead of us, as far too many people still operate at a very primitive level, and the acceptance of rational thought and empirical science is still much too iffy in far too many circumstances and areas of the world.

    But, that is why anyone who values liberty must be unrelenting in its advocacy, and indefatigable in the neverending effort required to protect and advance it.

    What other purpose can so engage and employ all the best within any human being than the continuous effort to promote human freedom and dignity?

    If, for one moment, a person can experience the moral and intellectual challenge that has energized men such as Jefferson or Havel to risk all in order to oppose tyranny, then that moment of exhileration may suffice to recompense all the years of dutiful drudgery which constitute most people’s lives.

    Stand up and shout for that fleeting instant when one may be able to feel fully human. It is the reward, the pearl of great price—a meaningful life fully lived as a human being.

    I’ve gotten carried away again. My apologies.

  • Current estimates are that 700 of the 1,400 US newspapers will be out of business by the end of the next decade.

    That strikes me as an amazingly conservative prediction, now that I think about it again. I wouldn’t be surprised if that many were gone by the end of this year.

  • Bod

    The barrier to realizing that goal of 700 is of course, Chapter 11 reorganizations.

    My own firm, for example, just provided DIP funding for just such a a chip-wrapper firm, rather than letting the bastards go tits-up in a full-blown Chapter 7. We don’t indulge in leveraged buyouts with subsequent asset stripping either, which would have been a pleasant thought too.

    This denies me the pleasure of seeing You Tube postings of long lines of statist propagandists being escorted off the premises by beefy security guards, Pulitzers and insulated coffee-mugs under their arms.

    I have no doubt we’ll be able to turn a welcome, and tidy profit for my firm on the deal, but the whole thing makes me feel rather unclean.

    Can’t you just feel the love?

  • VR, actually you should get carried away more often:-)

  • veryretired

    My wife says something similar to your kind thought on occasion, but then she shakes her head and laughs in a sort of rueful manner, so I’m a little unsure as to her meaning…

  • Leg-iron says:

    They used ‘gotten’. That non-word should get them exiled from print forever.

    Historically, “gotten” is the past participle of “get”. American English retained it when it went out of use in British English. Bill Bryson, the travel writer, has an excellent book detailing this and other evolutions in British and American English, called Mother Tongue.

  • Kim du Toit

    I just wish the newspapers weren’t publishing such absolute bullshit.

    As much as I detest the modern newspapers, I have to admit that whenever I get over to England, the first thing I do is snag a newspaper — usually, the Telegraph — and read it cover to cover, to get an idea of the country’s mood.

    That’s not something I can get from the Intarwebz.

    And anyway, I like the feel of newsprint in my hands — it’s a tactile, visceral response — and yes, I know it’s very old-fashioned. Guilty as charged.

    One of my English friends, as old-fashioned a man as I am, still gets The Times every morning and sitting at his kitchen table with a cup of tea, reads the paper all the way through before going to work. I envy him, because we have nothing close to that Over Here.

  • Paul Marks

    The American press:

    “In depth reporting” – covering up Comrade Obama’s background and activities and lying about anyone who challenged him.

    “Democracy is at stake” – the democracy the American left establishment media have done their best to subvert and destroy for som many years.

    “Careful explination of complex policy issues”.

    Like “Time” and “Newsweek” (and NBC and …..) with their doctrine that an economy is based on “spending” and the way to get out of recession is to spend and borrow even more.

    This was nonsense even when J.M. Keynes was writing this stuff in the New York Times back in the 1930′s – but back then they allowed Henry Hazlitt to write articles also.

    Just as Newsweek did (till 1966 – after that it was Milton Friedman till they decided they would not even tolerate Chicago School people let alone hard money people).

    These days the media do not even make a pretense at balance – and there “in depth” reporting to repeat slogans and talk about their homoerotic fantasies concerning Comrade Barack Obama (“feeling up my leg” “a thrill all over” and so on).

    To Hell with the left establishment media.

    Seeing these subhuman filth go bankrupt will be a joy. (If only the universities that produced them would collapse also.)

    Even though it will be used as excuse to demand that talk radio does more “local stories” (i.e. praise for State and local politicians and administrators) and gets rid of the conservative voices that “the market” (i.e. the people) wish to listen to.