It will come as no shock that newspapers are losing their reach, seeing subscription numbers and advertising revenue decline by the day. However, newspapers still hold a lot of power. This was never clearer than during the controversy over the NY Post’s recent cover, which showed an image of a man hanging over a subway track, moments before he was crushed to death by an oncoming train. Furthermore, newspapers’ coverage still influences elections and helps sell albums or movie tickets. If newspapers are such a joke, why can they still create such a stir? Mathew Ingram of gigaom.com -- whose name is spelled with only one T due to proofreader layoffs, I assume -- argues that newspapers are one of the few shared experiences remaining in our hyper-niched Internet world.
There is clearly still some power in the shared experience of seeing news appear in a printed newspaper, to the point where many are ready to attack the Post for taking advantage of that in the service of something evil, and attack the New York Times for not taking advantage of it in the pursuit of something good. And obviously much of that power comes from the brand that has developed behind these media institutions over time — a brand that has been built up by that shared experience. But as those shared experiences and brands lose some of their power and their reach, and a hundred different web sources take over, what do we lose and what do we gain?
I realized something long ago. When people talk about the news, they talk about how media sensationalizes and focuses on trivial stories or puff pieces. Mention music and people tell you how today's music is watered down repetitive crap. Movies are idiotic 3D pieces of junk made for the lowest common denominator. TV is thoughtless reality trash. Facebook is nothing but complaints and Twitter is photos of food. Umm, turns out that no matter what the medium, it trends toward idiots. Maybe it's a worldwide conspiracy by content producers to keep the planet in a perpetual state of ignorance. Or, maybe everyone is just stupid. I don’t know, I’m not a… umm… what do you call those guys who do science?