End Times: Can America's Paper of Record Survive the Death of Newsprint? Can Journalism?

What You Should Have Read, Jan. 7, 2009

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End Times: Can America's paper of record survive the death of newsprint? Can journalism?

The Atlantic looks at the predictions about the death of old media, nearly all of which have assumed a comfortingly long time frame for the end of print—the moment when newspaper presses stop rolling and news goes entirely digital. Most of these scenarios assume a gradual crossing-over, almost like the migration of dunes, as behaviors change, paradigms shift, and the digital future heaves fully into view. The thinking goes that the existing brands—The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal—will be the ones making that transition, challenged but still dominant as sources of original reporting. But what if the old media dies much more quickly? What if a hurricane comes along and obliterates the dunes entirely? Specifically, what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May? What then?

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