The argument goes like this: the Internet came along and started giving everything away for free and those ink-stained wretches grinding away to put out that daily paper that showed up on your doorstep each morning—that product for which you paid good money—just couldn’t be expected to keep up. How, in such an unlevel playing field were the old scribes to play along? Free news vs. paid subscription. The consumers, of course, made the choice that allowed them to spend a little more on Christmas gifts each year or put a little away in savings.
Or so the story goes.
Not so fast, argues Askold Melnyczuk in AGNI:
The death [of conventional journalism] was hardly inevitable and technology may have had less to do with it than most people think. A new medium is only as valuable as its message. Had newspapers continued to report the “news,” we might never have needed to find another way of getting it.
Melnyczuk points to an article by Michael Chossudovsky—“Towards a World War III Scenario?”—from the website GlobalResearch.ca as a particularly striking example of how news from Internet sources, more so than their print counterparts, actually cover stories worth covering and take strong stances on important issues such as war. He also points to WikiLeaks, calling the website’s success “the most important development in journalism in years.”
That newspapers around the world haven’t offered a chorus of thanks to WikiLeaks, and an even louder one to Private Manning, the young man alleged to have leaked the video mentioned above [of American soldiers murdering unarmed civilians in Iraq]—for which he now sits in a military prison—suggests that the decline and eventual disappearance of print journalism may leave us with little to mourn.
So maybe it wasn’t what we’ve all been led to believe—that the Internet killed the print journalism star. The lack of actual reporting on actual important issues may have simply chased readers to places where that coverage was actually happening.
What do you think? Do you get most of your news online these days or do you still subscribe to a daily paper? How about with ol’ Utne Reader here? Is the website your only destination for us, or do you get the magazine in your mailbox every couple of months, too?