Keen posted about death of the American newspaper today. What he had to say about is less relevant than what it got me thinking about–
I tried to think though what it would be like if the Journal-Sentinel here in Milwaukee were to go under. What would happen to daily news, and how would the city compensate for that loss? The next thing I thought of was that there are some people who used to work in “traditional media” in this market now on the staff of OnMilwaukee.com. I started to imagine that, as Clay Shirky (an NYU scholar whom Keen cites) points out, the end of newspapers does not have to be the end of journalism.
Perhaps if there were a business model (no matter how shakey) that allowed some competition back into the local news market, it would improve the product for everyone. It’s impossible here in the 21st century for the city of Milwaukee to support two daily papers, but it seems to me running a website should be a LOT less expensive. If there were two (or three, or more) web-based news outlets doing a good job at journalism, I think that would be wonderful.
The reality of the Milwaukee market is a little more complex than that– our newspaper is owned by a larger company that also runs a major TV station and the “biggest stick in the state,” so even if the daily printing of the paper were to stop, they have the resources within other outlets to continue producing a superior product to any other web-based upstart. But, the idea DOES make the “death of print” feel less like an ending, and more like the beginning of something else.