News 2.0: Can Journalism Survive the Internet?

By Martin Hirst | Go to book overview

4
The end of the
mainstream?

Somewhere around the time television got big … the news-
paper birthrate fell close to zero; after that, every death
was one step closer to extinction.

David Von Drehle

In the first few months of 2009, obituaries were being prepared for a number of American newspapers and British media commentator Roy Greenslade was mapping the closure of regional newspapers across Britain. On 17 March, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed after 146 years of continuous publication. The west coast city’s other daily, the Seattle Times, was also struggling, prompting some, like Time magazine’s David Von Drehle, to suggest it could become the first large US city without a daily paper. For Von Drehle (2009), the eventual death of newspapers, coupled with the rise of online opinion sites, could lead to the ‘factstarved day when the loudmouths have only themselves to talk about’. From late 2008 a number of newspapers around the world began dropping their print edition and becoming online only. City University’s Neil Thurman and Merja Myllylahti conducted a study of the Finnish financial daily Taloussanomat when it abandoned newsprint in December 2007. The paper was facing declining sales and growing costs, so the decision to move online only was driven by financial imperatives. However, Taloussanomat did not enjoy strong growth in online traffic, noting that at best it was ‘modest’ and, at worst, ‘very poor indeed’. It certainly was when compared to the UK Guardian, which increased online traffic

-51-

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