I came across an interesting statistic about newspapers the other day.
Even in their current moribund condition, newspapers in their print and digital formats are still read by about 75 percent of the adult population. (“The Only Game in Town,” by David Sirota, Harper’s, 9/12/ pg. 51.)
This sounds like good news to lovers of print but like most happenings in life, there is a down side. The number of newspaper publishers is in decline — which means readers are getting their information from fewer and fewer sources. Consolidation, according to Sirota, allows the owners of the remaining presses to “sculpt the news to serve their personal interests.” (Ibid. pg 49.) And since radio and televisions outlets have “lost more and more of their reporting resources to consolidation and cost cutting, many [are] reduced to parroting the surviving daily,” thereby enhancing the influence of these newspapers.(Ibid, pg. 49)
Some folks have attempted to counteract the influence of a few media moguls by setting up blogs to present different views. The Huffington Post began as a blog and became so successful it now provides hard news. And the future may be rosier than appears. Sirota predicts that, like black holes in space, these behemoth presses might one day implode, becoming too large to be profitably managed. When that happens, then like the Big Bang, smaller pieces will emerge and with them the rebirth of competition.
If the author is right, that event will shed new light for us all.