But now, some economists and newspaper executives say it is only a matter of time — and probably not much time at that — before some major American city is left with no prominent local newspaper at all.
“In 2009 and 2010, all the two-newspaper markets will become one-newspaper markets, and you will start to see one-newspaper markets become no-newspaper markets,” said Mike Simonton, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, who analyzes the industry.
“It would be a terrible thing for any city for the dominant paper to go under, because that’s who does the bulk of the serious reporting,” said Joel Kramer, former editor and publisher of The Star Tribune and now the editor and chief executive of MinnPost .com, an online news organization in Minneapolis.
“Places like us would spring up,” he said, “but they wouldn’t be nearly as big. We can tweak the papers and compete with them, but we can’t replace them.”
And therein lies the heart of the matter: Journalism will continue, but unless someone figures out a way to dramatically cut the costs of newsgathering, serious reporting will fade away.