A short-lived research project in which the Chicago Tribune solicited responses from current and former subscribers to descriptions of Tribune stories before they had been published has been halted after reporters raised journalistic concerns.
Newspapers are in extremis not because of their political agenda, but because the world around them has been transformed. The growth of the Internet has left the traditional newspaper business model, with its vast physical plant and expensive armies of writers, editors, photographers, pressmen, mailers, truck drivers, and salesmen, in a shambles. Craigslist and its ilk have vaporized what used to be most papers' greatest profit center: classified advertising. A decades-long trend of falling readership, brought on by the rise of television, has been accelerated to warp speed by the explosion of websites and blogs offering news and opinion on every conceivable subject, 24 hours a day - and usually for free. The culture has changed. Only 15 percent of Americans younger than 40 now read a printed newspaper every
day. It isn't political bias that keeps them away. Conservatives who insist otherwise do themselves no favors.
Debra J. Saunders:
When a newspaper dies, you don't get a comprehensive periodical to fill the void. You get an informational vacant lot into which passersby can throw their junk.
[T]he decay of the newspaper industry eats away at the connection that individuals have with their neighbors, and their understanding of the challenges facing those who live outside of earshot, on the other side of the interstate. You might have been solely interested in getting commentary on last night's baseball game, but if you buy the newspaper, you're likely to peruse the front page. You may simply have wanted to check cinema schedules, but you're likely to notice a headline that indicates that a local elementary school is laying off a portion of its teaching corps.