The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
MSM Decline in DC

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post is cutting back on office space in Virginia and Maryland:

“This is about office space, not personnel or coverage,” editors wrote in a memo to staff. The Post will retain existing bureaus in those states’ capitals, Richmond and Annapolis.

Amid revenue declines and losses in recent years, the paper’s owner, Washington Post Co., has shed jobs, closed regional bureaus and narrowed the Post’s coverage, focusing it primarily on Washington. In late 2009 the Post closed its bureaus in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Though the paper has trimmed losses considerably, it continues to grapple with ad declines.

The decline of the mainstream media has been one of the most dramatic social changes of the past decade. The culprits are familiar — websites like Craigslist have cut into a significant source of newspaper revenue, while cheap and convenient access to news online has lowered the price of news and commentary even in major newspapers.

But the reality is that the world’s need for fast and accurate reporting, and for smart commentary that helps make sense of the news is growing, not shrinking.  The legacy press has a lot of work to do as it adjusts to a changing media marketplace, but there are good livings to be made in the news business.

I hope.

Published on September 3, 2011 7:17 pm
  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    It’s the leftist biased Lame Stream Media that is suffering. And it’s because they are spinning the news and people don’t like it. The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Washington Examiner, etc… are all thriving as they take consumers away from the leftists.

  • http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/ M. Simon

    The MSM sold us Obama. Even Democrat leaning rubes in the media are waking up.

    http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2011/09/another-rube-self-identifies.html

    Not all the way awake by any means. Still.

    The news business depends on credibility. The MSM burned theirs to the ground in 2008. It is so bad that it is starting to become obvious even to believers.

  • Richard S

    Were newspapers better in the 1950s? Did they have more or fewer reporters back then? It might be that the major establishment newspapers have been a textbook case in Parkinson’s law. Cutting back might not be all bad, if it leads to better reporting.
    It would be interesting to see a study of how reporters spent their time in 1955, 1965, 1975, etc. If I understand how things work nowadays. NY Times reporters get sabbaticals to allow them to write books. Has that been good for the newspaper? Does the newsroom environment with such perks produce a better product?
    And there’s also the great Journalism school question. Do they produce better reporters.

  • Jim.

    The fact here is that the global distribution of the Internet is making it *very* efficient for a few people to fulfill the demand for the written word. It takes time to read — and even more time to be read to — so the demand for those words is likely to be static.

    Newspapers will only see a renaissance when people realize that while they know what’s going on in Washington, they may not know what’s going on down the block, or at their local school, or where they usually shop. Twitter and Facebook my or may not be able to fill this need; something like Yelp may be more helpful here.

    Yes, that’s the future of journalism. Interesting times.

  • Greg Q

    There’s a crying need for honest sources of news. Some day the MSM may decide that making money being that source is more important than pushing a left-wing agenda. Until then, they will continue to lose money.

    Note to reporters: the truth does not have a left-wing bias.

  • http://N/A John Q. Parvenu

    Re: Jacksonian Libertarian and the “leftist based Lame Stream Media”

    The MSM is a de facto Ministry of Propaganda. Its bias, such as it were, is corporatist & militarist — we’re talking Fascist al dente.

    (There hasn’t been a left wing in this country since the pre-war days of Norman Thomas!)

    The MSM is circling the drain because the public — the thinking segment thereof, anyway — now has a viable alternative in the form of the internet. Sure, it’s chaotic, but freedom’s funny that way. No longer must we endure the manicured mannequins and the blowsy bimbos that people the nitwit news!

    Re: M. Simon’s “The MSM sold us Obama.”

    And before that they sold you the Retarded Bushling, and before that the Inbred BillyJeff, and before that the Spook Bush… ad nauseum…But just because they’re selling doesn’t mean we’re obliged to buy!

    Our nation of sheep has begotten, and deservedly so, it’s government of wolves!

    Re: Richard’s “Were newspapers better in the 1950s?”

    Of course they weren’t. Obsequious then; craven today. The Murrows and Cronkites of the Ike Age were Corporate/Pentagon lackeys no less devout — though admittedly more presentable — that todays’ bootblacks — the O’Reillys and Matthews.

    People have stopped buying the NYT because they are tired of having to read between the lies! The lies on behalf of the Pentagon; the lies on behalf of the banksters. What component of that, Richard, confounds your comprehension?

    Re:Jim’s “Newspapers will see a renaissance…

    ” I hate to be the bearer of Bad News, but it’s like this: The MSM is over, finito, kaputski — Our Mastodons Moderne are surrounded by pools of this sticky black stuff. And they are too blissfully ignorant to notice the encroachments.

    Re: Greg Q. says “There is a crying need for honest sources of news…Until then…

    Hate to break it to you Greg, but the Oligarch owned and operated MSM
    had their chance.

    The Dinosaur Media is being rejected by the online community because THEY chose — the Eleanor Clifts, the Charles Kraut Hammers, the Keith Olbermanns, the George Wills — to function as Scarecrows, Blowfish, Lickspittles, and [something unpleasant] on behalf of the most corrupt nation-state in all of human history.

    Today’s newspapers are yesterday’s news!

    Bye Bye. So long. Farewell!

    JQP