The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free…For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.
Writes James Surowiecki in his column in this week’s New Yorker (here, now, free).
Sliver of hope? Well, there is this:
The blogosphere, much of which piggybacks on traditional journalism’s content, has magnified the reach of newspapers, and although papers now face far more scrutiny, this is a kind of backhanded compliment to their continued relevance.
UPDATE: Brian Till, “one of the nation’s youngest syndicated columnists,” realizes, “I am the murderer of news” and warns fellow freeloaders:
The news industry is in collapse; a critical piece of successful democracy is in jeopardy… Unless you trust blogs to accurately and consistently report news, or trust government and business to be completely forthcoming with their misdeeds, you ought to recognize the free ride you’ve been on and stand to pay your fare…
…just as soon as news organizations start collecting it.