I need a t-shirt that says: I asked the editor of the WaPo for a plan to save journalism and all I got was this book report on stuff I already knew.
I’ve been emailed “The Reconstruction of American Journalism” about a dozen times over the past few weeks. It’s a report from Len Downie and Michael Schudson that reviews, in painstaking detail, everything that has happened to journalism in the last 20 years and allegedly offers a plan to fix things.
I’ll save you the trouble of reading this tome (if you want) and tell you it doesn’t offer much at all. These were obviously the wrong guys to ask to change the business. The best idea they have? Asking private foundations and the government for help in funding news. (Newsflash: That isn’t new.)
Of course, Slate also takes a contrarian view and argues that newspapers aren’t doing as badly as you think. They take an excellent analysis of the recent circulation numbers with a forehead smack thrown in for good measure. It isn’t just newspapers underperforming, it’s the economy, stupid.