Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:
The old models by which newspapers once thrived no longer seem viable. The new models have yet to be born. Media guru Clay Shirky and others have reminded us that the media landscape that held sway over the last century was something of an historical accident. High ideals aside, newspapers were a business. They had to make money. Think of William Randolph Hearst. The great newspapers made money, primarily, through advertising. The publishers needed journalism to provide the content through which they could fill up the non-advertising space of their newspapers. A symbiotic relationship was formed. As Shirky summarizes it:
The high expense of printing has created an environment where Wal-Mart is essentially subsidizing the Baghdad bureau. This isn’t because of any deep link between advertising and reporting, nor is it about any real desire on the part of Wal-Mart to have their marketing budget go to international correspondents. It was just an accident of economics. Advertisers had little choice other than to have their money used that way, since they didn’t have any other vehicle for display ads.
One of the big questions, then, is who is going to pay for all the investigative reporting and in-depth analysis that used to get paid for by the big media giants and their advertisers? The quick answer is that no one has any idea. But there is another answer, temporary and partial as it may be. It is called Al Jazeera.