The decline of the business that supports journalism is not the same as the ruin of journalism itself.
News and journalism are in the midst of a major transformation. The rapid decline of the business model for general interest newspapers is well documented. Some numbers, drawn from George Brock’s new book Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism, and the Business of News in the Digital Age (2013), convey some of the stark details of the collapse. In the United States, for example, newspaper advertising revenue, a crucial source of income for papers throughout the twentieth century, peaked in 2000 at $63.5 billion. In 2012, it was down to $19 billion and falling. In roughly the same time period (2001–2011), total employment in the newspaper business dropped by 44 percent, mirroring the steady decline in weekday print circulation at the major US dailies. The situation in Europe is similar, both with respect to declining newspaper revenue—shrinking at more than 10 percent per year between 1995 and 2007 across the EU—and falling numbers of print subscribers.
As Brock rightly observes, the decline of the business that supports journalism is not the same as the ruin of journalism itself. Indeed, the rapid spread of digital communications has increased the sources of news, and while it changes the way people access and use information, it appears from the few studies available, to quote Brock again, that “what people will look for from news organizations has not changed at a basic level.” Many of those who read the news are simply shifting from print and broadcast (also in steep decline) to online sources.