I’ve written about the quality of journalism before (and I thought I’d had a specific post about free newspapers, too, but I can’t seem to find it*), but much of it is summed up in this article by Clay Shirky (via Richard Livsey):
Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.
He goes on to provide yet another reference point for a meme I’m passing though at the moment:
For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.
Or to put it in the words of Albert Einstein, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
*Maybe it’s just that I’ve had that conversation at a lot of dinner parties. The opener being:
“Free newspapers in London are deleterious to society’s well-being. They lure us into the sense that we are fulfilling our democratic obligations by understanding the news and the ideas, causes, and debates behind it; whereas in fact they provide only enough information to leave us with the warm feeling of the responsible citizen who is abreast with global affairs. If the choice is ‘no knowledge’ or ‘this knowledge’, I choose ‘no knowledge’ since at least that way people will be compelled to find information to fill the void, rather than having the hole papered over.”
That get’s people going nicely.