In the ongoing discussion of why the media industry is under duress and how it happened, a few things have appeared recently that may shed some light, or maybe just muddy the waters.
The State of the News Media 2009 is the sixth annual report on American Journalism by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) that examines the health of the profession. The Associated Press news item on the report sums up the prognosis of the profession as "disoriented, not dying." The day the report came out, NPR's Talk of the Nation had PEJ director Tom Rosenstiel on to talk about it.
Another arm of Pew, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, recently took a survey on consumption of different media. One of the questions of interest was how the loss of newspapers would affect communities: "fewer than half of Americans (43%) say that losing their local newspaper would hurt civic life in their community "a lot."
One more: this blog posting by Clay Shirky was singled out as an excellent analysis of how newspapers ended up where they are today. He teaches, works as a consultant, and has been writing about the internet for over 10 years.