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Accountability journalism Newspapers are responsible for mostlocal journalism, particularly “accountability journalism.” Clay Shirky of NYU: “Accountability journalism” is the sort of serious investigative journalism that prevents corruption and keeps the powerful in check. Example: Reporting by the Boston Globe to expose abuse by Catholic priests under the leadership of Cardinal Law. Can you name other examples?
Everybody gets news from newspapers Even if they don’t read them! The work of print journalists is used by everyone from politicians to district attorneys to bloggers to TV and radio stations. (“Rip and read.”) TV, radio and the Associated Press all use local newspaper reports as "tip sheets" for covering their communities.
What happened to newspapers? Financially, they are in big trouble because ad revenues have dropped Traditional advertisers -- Macy's, for example – are struggling Classified ads -- once the most profitable – have gone to the Internet
Newspaper classifieds revenue from 1980 to 2008 The revenues peaked in 1999, recovered slightly in 2004, and then plummeted after 2005.
Use of online classifieds sites doubled between 2005 and 2009. Sites like Craiglist, eBay and Amazon went from having a little use – only 22% had ever used them – to mainstream – 49% of people have used them. Some 9% of Americans use them every single day.
The business changed dramatically Newspapers were, essentially, monopolies. They could charge a lot for a little classified ad. Now those ads are free and all that money went away. But, wait, aren’t there online ads? Yes, but they earn dimes compared to dollars in the old day. Rates are very low.
People stopped buying newspapers Newspaper readership has been slowly dropping for decades. The decline started with TV news. Now, as a percentage of the population, newspapers have about half as many subscribers as they did four decades ago.
Where do they get their news? Local TV stations and their websites: 68% Local newspapers in print or online: 48% Local radio: 34% ‘Internet’ in general: 31% Source: Pew Trust study: March, 2009
People will miss newspapers, right? Not so much. Fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community "a lot." Even fewer (33%) say they would personally miss reading the local newspaper a lot.
Where does this lead? One view, from NYU’s Clay Shirky: Sometime soon, there will be big American cities with no local newspaper. Without watchdogs, government will sink into petty corruption. Even those cities with newspapers will see a dramatic reduction in coverage.
Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.