Today's Financial Times has an excellent article by John Gapper, "Who will mourn local newspapers?" He makes the point, indisputable but often ignored, that the institution of the newspaper depended ona congruence of technologies and economic advantages, that the Internet has superseded the technologies and slain the advantages, and that the local newspaper is a dead institution.
My working assumption . . . is that consolidation – or, more accurately, eradication – of local newspapers will strengthen the editorial position of the remaining elite: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, the Financial Times etc.
I also assume that this elite will find some way to cover its costs. Here’s hoping, anyway.
The last point is the rub. Newspapers were based on a two-sided business model of selling content to readers and at the same time selling those reader eyeballs to advertisers. At the moment, it is impossible to enforce property rights in content, so it is extremely difficult to think of a model that will cover costs. Without property rights, the creator cannot even monetize its effort via advertising.
Of course, the press has mostly supported things like P2P and attacked all efforts by content creators to defend themselves, so one can watch its destruction without a sense of fairness outraged. Live by the sword, etc.