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Now the Details

Media, ethics, and journalism. What works. What doesn't.

Jeffrey Dvorkin

Monday, December 1, 2008

Curious Deformations

The New York Times today reports that longtime television anchors are being laid off
as a cost cutting measure. Although most Americans still get their daily news from television compared to any other media, the percentage has dropped from about 20% to 12% over the past year.

The blog Reflections of a Newsosaur, speculates that the downturn in the economy of newspapers is so dreadful, that some newspapers may soon announce they will cease publishing a print edition on certain days of the week and default to online only. Midweek has lower circulation numbers.

My colleagues at the Organization of News Ombudsmen have already had their numbers slashed in American newspapers over the last year.

It's enough to join the legions of grumpy old journos sitting around some apocryphal bar anticipating an even greater information apocalypse. The economy seems to be doing to journalism what the enemies of a free press could never do: cripple the ability of a society to look after its interests and identify its dangers.

One irony is that this is happening at the end of the Bush Administration which did much to silence journalism and put journalists on the defensive through the "war of terror."

Even so, there are signs that as Antonio Gramsci said: "The old world is dying. The new world does not know how to be born. In between, some curious deformations occur."

Those "deformations" are all online. Some fascinating ideas abound. Some media are moving boldly (The Guardian, the NY Times and NPR are doing terrific work). They are simultaneously creating media that has both credibility and community. My Ryerson students astonish me because they seem so unafraid of what's to come.

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