The most puzzling aspect of the long-predicted death of conventional journalism is the preponderance of evidence that no such thing is occurring.
"Thanks to the Internet, people probably read more good journalism than ever," Andrew Rice wrote in the New York Times magazine last week. Hardly the symptom of an industry on its knees. But there's an easy and mistaken conflation often made between the business of news and the conventions of inquiry and conduct which produce it. The business side, as everyone knows, is suffering badly.
"The list of what's killing journalism is long," James Fallows wrote in the introductory paragraph on his excellent feature for the Atlantic Monthly "How To Save The News." It includes, he said, loss of revenue from advertising and classified ads and the "unbundling" effects of entities like Google. These factors have reduced the venerable newspaper business model to fundamental unprofitability.
Fallows sketched an ultimately hopeful picture. Google's experts have full confidence, he wrote, that it is only a matter of time before business models catch up with the state of the industry. Someone, or more likely several someones, will inevitably figure out how to make online journalism pay the bills.
Picture by Flickr user Bearman2007, used under Creative Commons.