“Newspapers Are Dying”

That’s the first line of Hugh Hewitt’s column today. The news business, though, is going to be just fine:

The mainstream media – MSM – are populated overwhelmingly by left- and hard-left-leaning writers and editors, and few people even bother to argue the point anymore. American newspapers are not unlike American car companies: Market dominance made them lazy and uninterested in their customer base, and a lot of that base slowly melted away, even before the new media arrived. When blogs and talk radio and cable arrived and offered a choice to news consumers long disgusted with biased product, remaining center-right readers began to bolt.

And nonideological readers, too, began to drift away. Internet news and opinion providers are by and large free. Let’s say I love Cleveland-area sports and live in Southern California. I can get the Indians and Browns news from the online editions of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal, the stuff the newspapers of Southern California never cover. Why bother even touching, say, the Los Angeles Times, when I can read the Washington Post for politics, the Wall Street Journal for business, Townhall.com and RealClearPolitics.com for opinion, and the Ohio newspapers for sports? The Times went hard-left years ago, with almost no center-right voice to balance its incessant cheerleading for Democrats. It left me; I didn’t leave it.

Hugh has nice words for Power Line and our news and video sites, too. Read it all!

SCOTT adds: Weekly Standard online editor Jonathan Last provides the excellent counterpoint to Hugh’s take: “Blog, humbug!” Hat tip to to Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed editor Kevin Ferris for arranging such an instructive exchange of views.

JOHN adds: I agree with much of what Jonathan says. It’s important to distinguish between the internet, which is revolutionary and vitally important, and “blogging,” which is not. One of Jonathan’s key points is that primary news gathering is a lot more important than opinion journalism, and news gathering is still done by Old Media, not New Media:

Real journalism – the practice of adding to the store of public knowledge by reporting news – is a difficult, thankless, and often unpleasant task. Bloggers want no part of it. Everyone wants E.J. Dionne’s job; no one wants to be Michael Dobbs.

I agree with Jonathan about the importance of news gathering; whether New Media will ultimately do much of it remains to be seen. But I would simply note that it isn’t only bloggers who would rather be E.J. Dionne (or, say, George Will) than Michael Dobbs. The problem is that many mainstream reporters want to be E.J. Dionne, too. They can’t keep their opinions out of their news reporting, and the problem is compounded by the fact that pretty much all of their opinions lean to the left. It is, in large part, this failing of the mainstream media that has caused alternative media to flourish, on the web and elsewhere.

Responses

Books to read from Power Line