From the March issue of The New Republic comes this long but worthwhile article by Paul Starr, Stuart professor of communications and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and the author most recently of Freedom's Power (Basic Books).
Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers (Hello to a New Era of Corruption)
Why American politics and society are about to be changed for the worse.
The lead: "We take newspapers for granted. They have been so integral a part of daily life in America, so central to politics and culture and business, and so powerful and profitable in their own right, that it is easy to forget what a remarkable historical invention they are. Public goods are notoriously under-produced in the marketplace, and news is a public good--and yet, since the mid-nineteenth century, newspapers have produced news in abundance at a cheap price to readers and without need of direct subsidy. More than any other medium, newspapers have been our eyes on the state, our check on private abuses, our civic alarm systems. It is true that they have often failed to perform those functions as well as they should have done. But whether they can continue to perform them at all is now in doubt."
The Poynter.org's columnist Romanesko quotes Starr today about this:
"Despite all the development of other media, the fact is that newspapers in recent years have continued to field the majority of reporters and to produce most of the original news stories in cities across the country," writes Princeton prof Paul Starr. "Online there is certainly a great profusion of opinion, but there is little reporting, and still less of it subject to any rigorous fact-checking or editorial scrutiny."
The rest of the story here.