Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

A shrinking “marketplace of ideas”

In today’s Editing class, Professor Rodgers talked about the media monopolies and shriveling newsrooms.

The Boston Globe is closing three foreign bureaus. Other papers are restricting international and national coverage. The newsroom is getting smaller as media companies like Times cut budgets and lay off employees in a rush to increase profits and concentrate on the Internet.

Over the past 10 years, the number of major media companies has gone from 50 to 5.

I guess the CEOs figure that the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and AP wire can handle the in-depth, large-scale reporting. They’ve become more obsessed with profits, despite the fact that newspapers still provide a better return on investments than any other industry.

But one of the principles behind the free press is the “marketplace of ideas.” If papers trade in their own voices for those of larger outlets, the number of voices in the arena, the number of perspectives heard by the public, is reduced. And we, the public, won’t stand for that. Instead we’ll retreat even further into the Internet, searching for the news and voices we want.

We’ve already started to shift our loyalties to bloggers (vloggers, mobloggers, etc.) and alternate sources of news. That’s why you, Mr. Media CEO, are getting rid of seasoned reporters and recruiting newbies with online capabilities.

Way to shoot yourself in the foot.

On the other hand, I’ve heard and read a lot about the future of newspapers being hyper-local. This suggests that people are more interested in what goes on in their neighborhoods than across the ocean. The social implications of that are just scary.

I want to know what’s going on down the street from my house. I also want to know what’s going on on the other side of the world. And I want to hear it from the left, the right, the middle, the opinions, the facts, the stories. Because that’s the only way I can decide what my world is like.

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