Do you get a newspaper thumping onto your front porch? If you do, chances are the number of people creating that paper has been considerably slashed. A new study shows that 85 percent of daily papers have cut newsroom staff in the last three years. Fewer journalists, means fewer stories — the papers surveyed have cut foreign news by two-thirds and national news by half.
Part of the reason for the shrinkage, is the move toward the web. No longer able to cash in on the lucrative classifieds and ads that fueled a traditional paper, the speed with which the news happens online is causing quite a vortex of information and people to produce it. The study shows that while editors realized the advantages of the web, the energy to produce the material leads to a limited scope of questionable value — not a great trade-off.
And about that move to the web. Traditional once only-paper news sources, like the New York Times now allow comments on certain stories. It's a welcome mat of reader input following in the example of blogs and nonprint media like CNN — allowing unprecedented — and sometimes questionably thought out commentary, once screened by an editorial staff. Should newspapers allow comments on their news stories? Can the sunset of the newspaper trade be buoyed by adopting more web-friendly tactics — or should newspapers stay insular and impartial? What's the future of the black and white and read all over?