As the nation's big daily newspapers continue to struggle (the Richmond Times-Dispatch just eliminated its Washington bureau, leaving the question of its Roanoke bureau to burn a little hotter), there's an interesting argument going on about whether 10 major papers will close or go digital next year.
A guy named Douglas A. McIntyre created the list for the Wall Street Journal in February and it included the following: Philadelphia Daily News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Miami Herald, Detroit News, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, New York Daily News, Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. McIntyre's arguments look unassailable, but they're assailed in Alan Mutter's blog. Mutter makes strong arguments, but ultimately, both men are speculating about an industry that is in decline and about organizations whose lives are likely coming to an end as we know them. The question here is likely not so much whether as when.
And if they die, does anybody care? Pew Research Center says yes ... sort of. That would be 33 percent would really care a whole bunch. About 42 percent would care "not much" or "not at all." In an odd little twist to this, 74 percent say that the closing of the paper would hurt civic life at least some. But, hey, what's to care? I got problems o' my own.