Media consolidation as a fix?

Traditional media is in trouble. Newspapers have been struggling for sometime, having failed to acknowledge and then address the threat of the Internet — more accurately, the threat of Criagslist. Broadcasters are hurting because their top advertisers, the automobile and financial services sectors are hurting.

It’s in no one’s best interests to see newspapers disappear, and local news cut back. That is a given, and there are no quick fixes. Brian Lowry proposes an interesting, and admittedly partial solution in Variety. I’m usually reticent about relaxing the rules for this generation’s robber barons, but some careful relaxation of the ownership rules can go a ways to helping traditional media get back on its feet without completely killling local news gathering. The alternatives Lowry cites are far worse than the threat of increased consolidation.

Without some kind of action, more broadcasters, newspapers and magazines are going to die off. Local news coverage — the essence of public service, however quaint and dated that might sound — has already been seriously compromised, as TV and print cut back on newsgathering resources. Other creative methods to pare costs have assumed almost Orwellian dimensions, from outsourcing editing functions to Mumbai (there’s nothing quite like having copy editors 8,000 miles away from the city council meeting) to “citizen journalism,” often little more than code for stations that lack the manpower to cover their communities tapping amateur video to fill the void.

It’s a well thought out, well presented piece. Read it in its entirety if you have a chance.

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