What Are Newspapers For?

Boston Globe

In what form should the Globe be saved? Source: cmiper hide caption

itoggle caption Source: cmiper

The Boston Globe has been in precarious circumstances for some time. Last night, staff at the Globe voted against accepting a cut in pay and benefits, potentially putting them in an even worse spot, as now the paper's parent company, the New York Times Co. said they'd need to cut pay by 23% to keep the paper from shutting down. (Seriously, get out a calculator, take 23% out of your paycheck — and swallow hard.) As newspapers continue their years-long reckoning with profitability, this comes from the Christian Science Monitor, which, you'll remember, had to cut its print edition entirely.

Conventional wisdom holds that newspapers have been crippled by the flight of advertising to the Web. But they've been crippled just as much by corporate profiteering, arrogance, elitism, and encroaching dullness that have driven away readers, sometimes in droves.

Newspapers must look back to have a future. They need to reclaim their populist roots — roots that the Web increasingly controls.

It's an interesting point — maybe the appeal of the Web isn't its low, low price, but its populism.

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