Broadband beats the newsstand

Several items this morning suggesting that the future of newspapers is pretty dim.
The Heartland Institute (a U.S.-based education reform activist group, so far as I can tell) reports on a study, jointly authored by the Columbia School of Journalism and the Pew Foundation that looks at newspaper readership in the U.S. In Who Will Read Newspapers?. the Heartland Institute concludes that while newspaper readership was often linked to higher levels of education, readership levels among university-educated Americans is now decling.
“Newspaper reporters continue to produce thought-provoking and substantive stories. However, recent reports raise concerns as to whether newspapers will continue to have readers in tomorrow's America,” the report says. “”The share of the U.S. population that reads newspapers has been shrinking for more than two generations, but population growth once masked the trend. Now circulation is decreasing in absolute terms.”
The Heartland Institute suggests declining levels of literacy at all levels means fewer potential newspaper readers.
The guy who covers politics for U.S. music video channel, though, says young people are looking elsewhere for news and information.
Young people are also turning to the Web for advice on movies. As an article in the Christian Science Monitor notes, people who are between 18 and 24 would rather go to online movie sites than take film-going advice from a critic who works for a mainstream media outlet like Time.
Trying to respond to declining levels of readership, many newspapers try to move downmarket, publishing shorter articles with a heavy focus on entertainment news. I think that's a short-term fix, if it's a fix at all. Newspapers are for readers. Even if there are fewer readers, you need to publish something that's a satisfying reading experience. That means intelligent language and articles that are as long as they need to be to tell an interesting and compelling story. I realize that's pretty vague, but it's a better goal to shoot for than some of the formulas would-be newspaper saviours come up with for “brighter, tighter” news-you-can-use solutions.

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