Meh, there's still a lot of people who are nostalgic for the old News Paper medium as both a cultural icon and as a condensed source of local news
relevant to their county or city. The internet is, as of yet, not nearly as user friendly or as all-in-one news source for local information. Not to
mention there's just something visceral about the experience we connect with. The texture and scent of paper, the crackling as the pages turn. Even
if it's just on occasion, many people still like to sit down with a good old fashioned news paper and a cup of coffee.
It's like the door knob. I bet by now most folk in 60's would have thought automatic sliding doors would have replaced the old-fashioned swinging
door. While there are, I'm sure, numerous economic, safety, energy, and architectural reasons why they haven't invaded our homes. But part of it...
I think... is also because we like the way they can help us emote. The touch of the doorknob after a long trip is a comforting welcome, and an angry
slam can leave an impression on others while letting off a bit of steam.
But newspapers aren't cheap to produce and distribute, and they cannot sustain their current market if their prior readers continually turn to the
internet. They aren't supported by subscription fees, but by advertisers who aren't going to pay for views they aren't getting. So I do expect to
see, even in a good economy, the importance of newspapers continue to dwindle and outlets continue to close or go online only.
There will always be a few around to satisfy that tactile demand for a Sunday paper leafing through your fingers, but how exactly the business model
will be forced to change in order to stay sustainable I couldn't say.
However, concerning the quote in the op:
I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories
in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding
To a fair degree, this is largely true. Whereas industry news reporters had limited specialization options for target audiences as well as circulation
limitations, news as reported by industry news tends to be fact checked better, more balanced in views (to a fault), and more thoroughly researched. A
great deal of effort is made to present articles which appeal to the largest spectrum of readers in their market for increased sales potential. As a
result, it's also often bland, wishy-washy, speculative, and distanced from the event being reported.
The blogosphere is a different beast altogether. Reporters are amateurs in the field working for free or dirt cheap, their pervasive - everywhere
there's the internet and news - there's an in-the-field blog reporter ready to publish their story. And because they are so cheap to operate and so
pervasive, they have the flexibility to specialize to whatever tastes might paint the human pallet. Many bloggers don't even report stories
themselves, but pick up and distribute a story from other bloggers on their own website, with their own commentary and interpretation tacked on.
Because of the amateur experience of the reporter, the reporting for a specific audience's taste, and the speed at which blog reports propagate
across the internet once published - errors, speculations, misconceptions, slanted views, and other fluff-trash news gets spread around the globe with
absolutely no means of formal retraction, error correction, or regard for opposing views.
To switch gears back to the traditional media, for a moment. Because the larger Media/Print news industries are, as mentioned, targeting a wider
audience - viewers/readers of these outlets tend to get a broader and more objective reporting, increasing the likelihood that they will be exposed to
an opposing view which may provide context to their understanding. IIRC, a few studies have shown that traditional media alone produces better
informed audiences than the internet/bloggers do as a sole source of information. This is, again, because of the low cost of blogs allowing for
greater specialization - and a stronger potential for self-affirming bias without a sufficiently represented counter-viewpoint to consider. The best
informed participants in the study got their news from a mixture of both internet and traditional media.
However, this isn't to say that traditional media is necessarily the contrary to how the OP's quote portrays internet bloggers. In fact, traditional
media is often chock full of projections, slanted reporting, spin doctoring, pandering, cheap & easy speculation, and promotion of
popular/controversial topics over actual news coverage. This time, the large size of the media industries tendency to water down and homogenize their
reporting in an effort garner a wider audience can actually leave their reader/viewer far less informed. For instance, the numerous commentaries in
papers and debates on pundit forums over ID vs. Evolution a few years back. Despite the fact that ID didn't have really anything to support it, and
still doesn't, when reported - they're often regarded as being on equal ground, which they are not. Readers love a good controversy, so many times a
small contention or minor complaint will be artificially trumped to provide readers with "Fair and Balanced" views of both sides... when, in fact,
there may never have been a controversy or contention worth raising in the first place.
Ultimately, if a bailout of various print publications were to manifest, I'm not certain as to what long-term benefit it would serve. I can
understand the sentiment of many who may wish to preserve the time-honored American newspaper media - the only private industry explicitly given
special consideration in the Constitution. However, the print media is not a back-bone industry the way the Big Three are - and their decline and
failure in the market is something that can't really be helped in the long run, no matter how much money is thrown at it. With the continual
development of information technology which already exists, as well as the emergence of new avenues of information transmission in the future, I see a
bleak future for the print media press from here on out.