Monday, December 11, 2006

Will Newspapers "Remain Around Forever"?

Former FCC Commissioner Newton N. Minow has a very thought-provoking OpEd in yesterday's Chicago Trib:

Nearly 220 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "... were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

"Jefferson would be dismayed if he learned about what happened in a class taught last year by my daughter, Martha, at Harvard Law School. Martha had invited a former student, Cliff Sloan, to lecture to her class. Sloan, who is publisher of Slate, an online journal, asked the students to raise their hands if they read a print newspaper every day. Not one hand went up. When he asked how they kept informed, they all had the same answer: We get our news online. Are they reading Yahoo News? Google News? Blogs? If you ask online readers what sources they use, they often just say "The Internet." Are they getting only headlines without in-depth reporting?

This year, the Pew Research Center found that 50 million Americans go to the Internet for news every day, almost twice the number that did so four years ago. Four years from now, I would not be surprised if instead of 50 million Americans on the Internet, the number has doubled again.

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