Newspaper weaknesses - Quotes for NYT, Washington Post, LATimes, Chicago Tribune
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." --- Mark Twain
"All I know is what I read in the newspaper. That makes me the most ignorant man alive." ---- Will Rogers
What both these great writers understood was that when you get most of your news from one source, you get only what that source chooses to tell you, and only a single interpretation of the news. Since newspapers began there has been controversy about bias in news reporting. Many famous newspapers were considered "conservative" or "liberal" based upon the political opinions of the owners. The reality is that when a newspaper reporter tells you a story, what you read - down to the word choices - is affected by the opinions and feelings of the author, as well as those of the editor and perhaps even the publisher.
The great breakthrough of the internet is you aren't restricted to a single (or possibly) two sources. You can find articles about anything from a political speech to an automobile accident published by 5, 10 maybe hundreds or thousands of sources. And for many news items the internet provides you not only multiple opportunities to read how the "facts" are told, but you can find multiple articles that interpret those facts. This plethora of coverage means that internet readers have the opportunity to be as selective, or as broad, as they choose. And it means that the ability of publishers to "control the direction" of a story is dramatically diminished. Readers, by looking across multiple sources, can determine as a group which "facts" they find accurate, and which "interpretation" they find most genuine. Because of the internet, news coverage is "democratized" in a way that has never before been possible.
Newspapers provided a method of informing the public for a very, very long time. But they have an internal weakness they cannot overcome - the printing means that only one version of a story is told and it can only be economically told once per day. The distribution method makes newspapers an "event" that occurs at "deadline", and the cost is high enough that there's only enough advertising to support the printing and distribution of one newspapers in most markets. When you get down to the printing - the "paper" in "newspaper" - it has limits that create a weakness.
The internet is disruptive because it overcomes the limitations of printing. It is available 24x7 not just to read, but to be updated and current with the latest information. A person anywhere can read input from multiple sources. The internet makes up-to-the-minute news coverage of everything available to people in rural, remote locations as quickly as it does those "on the scene", thus opening an interest in world or very local events to everyone on the planet, regardless of location. And this means this "no cost distribution" (not no cost of fact acquistion, or interpretation, or writing - just distribution) allows the internet to do what economist Joseph Schumpeter called "creatively destroy" the old value in newspapers.
Those who bemoan the loss of newspapers need to spend more time on the internet. There are so many sources for so much news that we are today the best informed society in the history of mankind. The financial problems at newspaper publishing have not diminished the quantity or quality of news coverage. Those are higher than ever. And the businesses that jump into this market, by developing networks to access the most/best news and interpretation at the lowest cost - while delivering it in a format that is easy for readers to find and absorb - will be successful. And it will be harder than ever for those trying to create the news (such as politicians and political pundits) to decry "bias" in a world where all opinions are available to everyone.