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Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic

The newspaper business has always been a funny one: bundling celebrity and football news with the “serious” news of the way the world was headed in order that the former support the latter. The profit margin generated by watching a football match and writing a bit about what you saw during a single day is always going to be higher than watching for corrupt patterns of government over months or years. But the latter is, arguably, the more important for keeping society healthy.

The internet, with its non-captive readership turns this model on its head. Readers are able to dictate their own path, rather than editors & advertisers as is the case in a traditional newspaper. The question is how to support the more serious side of journalism now the football readership provides less of a subsidy?

Clay Shirky does a good job in this article of enumerating the problems and some of the proposed solutions, but there are no silver bullets on the horizon yet.

But even in their worst days, newspapers supported the minority of journalists reporting actual news, for the minority of citizens who cared. In return, the people who followed sports or celebrities, or clipped recipes and coupons, got to live in a town where the City Council was marginally less likely to be corrupt.

(As an aside, I don’t see the reasoning behind the headline.)

.:.