Next time you read an op-ed or hear a TV news anchor bemoan the death spiral of newspapers, ask yourself this: Does this person actually have to pay for their newspaper?
Odds are, no. When you walk into a newsroom, any newsroom, there's usually a big stack of the day's newspapers to greet you. You grab what you need. If, on the other hand, you had to pay for it? At today's prices it's a hefty tab ... especially for a bunch of newsprint that often houses "filler" stories and house ads.
Yes, I'm saying this as a snarky Web guy (who has long suffered the slings and arrows of newspaper types looking down on Internet based journalism). But I also say this as someone whose finance department has cut his newspaper budget ("You can get that on the Net, can't you?" is the bean-counter refrain and suddenly our stacks of newspapers aren't so big).
Sure, I'm irritated that I can't flip through the paper. But I'm not irritated enough to pay for it myself (not even for home delivery). Apparently a lot of other people aren't either.
Will journalism suffer from a contraction in the newspaper business? Well, the TV outfits that rely on newspapers to bird dog coverage will, for sure. But on the whole I doubt it. In my locale a Web site does a lot better than the local paper in telling you what's going on.
I imagine the Web will fill local news needs in other areas and in other subjects as well. Sure, I'm sorry for my fellow journos who are feeling the pain. But spare me the hand-wringing over the future of journalsim, okay?