News Without Paper
By Arnold Kling
What would a new-era newspaper look like?
First, I think I’d skip the “paper” part. I’ve visited a lot of newspaper offices, and many of them proudly display the printing presses that produce their product, just as older newsmen often glory in the title of “ink-stained wretch.” But their product isn’t paper (in fact, for those of us who recycle, the paper is a drawback, not a plus, at least until it’s time to pack things for a move). Their product is information. Paper is just an increasingly obsolete delivery platform. It’s expensive, and on the way out. Get rid of it, or start a new “paper” without it.
From an economic perspective, this is not as simple as it sounds. The printing press is what makes newspapers large, centralized organizations. If you get rid of the printing press, then what does an individual reporter get out of affiliating with a newspaper?
For more on the economic plight of newspapers, see Holman Jenkins.