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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Newspapers Caught in a Net?

By Keith R. Schmitz

According to recent by a study from the Pew Research Center, both TV and newspapers are loosing readership share to the Internet as a source for news.

The erosion is steady and relentless. Only radio and magazines -- what is known as "old media" -- have gained somewhat. And quite likely those sources are appealing to an older -- and sad to say -- dying segment of the audience.

As we have seen on many blogs and what has been floating around the Web, that has not been always a very authentic source. Some sites are reaching for the level of journalism that could be called professional. Talking Points is one of them and has been recognized by the media for their astuteness.

Nevertheless, many newspaper sites are doing brisk business, including our own Journal Sentinel. The only problem is that so far the secret to making money on the Internet by news sources remains a mystery.

This is could be a problem for our democracy. In order for the machinery to work effectively, there has to be a reliable form of communication. Even yahoo admits that without the traditional sources feeding into their sites, they do not have the means of news gathering.

Of course there will be some who will celebrate the demise because they regard the "mainstream media" as being biased. But if that stream dries up our form of government will be left high and dry.

It's a dilemma. The Internet if anything implies a free flow of information. But to get it, someone has to be paid to do the job on a regular basis. That as we know, is capitalism.

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