Matthew Price, writer and book critic
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Death of Everything (Cont’d)

Another week, another disaster for the newspaper industry. When I was blogging last year about what big city daily would be the first to go, I had 2-1 odds on the scrappy Boston Herald biting the dust. But remarkably, this Beantown ᾿bloid is holding on. The late Seattle Post-Intelligencer did not make my original watch list, but I wasn’t too far off with my call on the Rocky Mountain News, which I had laid 3-1 odds on. Both are gone now, and it’s a shame.

All of this is bad, and it’s not nostalgic to say that demise of the American newspaper will bring nothing good to the culture. Sure, let a thousand websites bloom, but none of these will be able to replicate what a newspaper does. (And I don’t care what the brilliant Clay Shirky has to say.) At Garcia Interactive, designer John Duncan predicts 85 percent of American newspapers will be dead by 2011. A nightmare scenario. In a searching essay for The New Republic, Paul Starr reflects on the political consequences of an America with radically diminished newspapers.

There are surely more newspapers closures in the offing this year. But who’s next? Douglas A. Macintyre at 24/7 Wall St. put out a controversial list of the ten papers it thinks will fold or go digital soon. However, always sharp industry vet Allan Mutter, who blogs at Reflections of a Newsosaur, seriously questioned Macintyre’s findings. But this a matter of “if,” not “when.” I’m trying to be reassured by Mutter’s skepticism; but, somewhere, we are headed for a no-newspaper town. What big city will the first to earn this undesirable distinction? The Seattle Times is in trouble; the venerable San Francisco Chronicle, which I had at 3-1, is in worse shape. I’ll give it even odds to survive the rest of the year.


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