The Current Discussion: American newspapers are in dire financial straits. How are newspapers faring where you are? Are you concerned about the future of journalism in America or in your own country? What does that future look like?
Two issues have to be separated here to some extent: the commercial viability of mass media and the nature of the news business. Newspapers in most of the Arab world cannot exist profitably on their own, and rely on political subsidies from the government or wealthy patrons who usually have political motives. So most existing papers and magazines will continue to publish, but their readerships will decline steadily as younger people gravitate to new forms of media to obtain news and views and also to express themselves.
The transition from traditional newspapers to other media forms all over the world is probably a positive move in the long run, though the transition itself is painful. It's positive because the amount and quality of news and views available to any individual around the world are much greater than before, though people without internet access are at a relative disadvantage. The traditional role of the quality newspapers that offered news, analysis, opinion and entertainment features will be taken over by new institutions that distribute their content via the web and other means. The total market for news and views will be larger and richer, and more democratically accessible to a wider global audience. This is a good development that we should welcome. Getting there is painful, especially for hacks like me who have spent the last 40 years editing and writing for newspapers, but the new world we are entering is full of variety and quality. Change means the absence of stagnation...
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