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One of the benefits of a long travel day is the opportunity it affords to catch up on some reading. A common theme running through much of what I had set aside for this trip had to do with the state of the American news industry. Reading the latest State of the Media annual report on American Journalism, Rachel Smolkin's editorial piece in the June/July edition of AJR, the Washington Post three piece special on its decade online and Michael Kinsley's history of Slate on its ten year anniversary were all insightful in providing retrospectives on the last decade of the American news industry. The sooner news owners and investors stop thinking solely in terms of protecting their traditional mediums and begin exploring the multitude of new opportunities the Internet presents the better journalism will become. It seems fitting to leave the last word to Warren Buffett who recently declared about newspapers at the 2006 Berkshire Hattaway Annual Shareholders Meeting …

Newspaper readers are heading into the cemetery, while newspaper non-readers are just getting out of college. The old virtuous circle, where big readership draws a lot of ads, which in turn draw more readers, has broken down. Charlie and I think newspapers are indispensable. I read four a day. He reads five. We couldn’t live without them. But a lot of people can now. This used to be the ultimate bulletproof franchise. It’s not anymore.

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting; I wrote one of the Post pieces and actually had that Buffett quote in an early version of the story. But the news industry is bigger than newspapers, so it got axed in later versions — still, sobering thoughts from a guy who has watched newspapers for 50 years or more.

  2. Hi Pat. Thanks for dropping by. As the old saying goes great minds think alike and fools seldom differ. Either way its nice to know I’m in good company đŸ˜‰


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