Renewing the News

NEW YORK – Last week, rumors from the world of print media were rife: a hundred reporters from The New York Times news desk to be bought out – or to lose their jobs if they refuse; steep cutbacks at British newspapers; staffs slashed at Condé Nast – eight respected editors axed at Glamour magazine. In the United States and elsewhere, there is a sense that the long-foreseen implosion of news publishing is accelerating, having reached a kind of critical mass.

The head of a famous journalism school, echoing sentiments common among her peers, told me recently, “We are preparing students to enter a profession that won’t exist as we know it by the time they graduate.”

There is no way to disguise the reality: newspaper readers, in the West at least, are getting older; younger readers prefer to get their information online, where readers spend far less time actually reading news than print readers do; and, most agonizingly of all for the industry, people who were willing to pay for newspapers are unwilling to pay for the same content on a screen.

But does this mean the death of news, or its evolution? I think we are witnessing something new being born.