The Economist, in a new story, seeks to paint a positive future for newspapers, noting the cutbacks have mostly stopped. But the piece ignores what they have done to the in-depth reporting and heart of newspapers.
“It has not been much fun,” the article admits. “Many papers stayed afloat by pushing journalists overboard. The American Society of News Editors reckons that 13,500 newsroom jobs have gone since 2007. Readers are paying more for slimmer products. Some papers even had the nerve to refuse delivery to distant suburbs. Yet these desperate measures have proved the right ones and, sadly for many journalists, they can be pushed further.”
Yes, that push further is what is the problem. Sure, newspapers are starting to come back with revenue and profits. But the cuts so far have destroyed much of the valuable investigations and daily beat reporting.
“The whirlwind that swept through newsrooms harmed everybody, but much of the damage has been concentrated in areas where newspapers are least distinctive,” the story claims. “Car and film reviewers have gone. So have science and general business reporters. Foreign bureaus have been savagely pruned. Newspapers are less complete as a result. But completeness is no longer a virtue in the newspaper business.”
Says who? I would ask the tens of thousands who have lost newspaper jobs and the readers who notice the difference if the destruction is not terrible.