Fewer newspapers = more corruption

Even those of us who care about news and newspapers can become cynical about the wailing over the demise of print. Fortunate then that Paul Starr has written a passionate and thought-provoking argument in The New Republic for why all citizens should care.

It’s worth reading–all 13 printed pages of it. Among his thoughts:
* Quoting Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism: “More of American life will occur in the shadows. We won’t know what we don’t know.”
* According to a 2003 study examining the relationship between corruption and daily newspaper availability and freedom of the press, “the lower the free circulation of newspapers in a country, the higher it stands on the corruption index.”
* And the danger isn’t just of more corruption of government and business: as the possibility of more bias and journalism for hire drives out professional journalism, there will be more “corruption of journalism itself.”
*As advertising has diminished, circulation has dropped and newspapers have scaled back: “The result is that newspapers are shrinking not just physically or in labor power, but in the most important dimension of all–their editorial mission.”
* “If independent news media capable of holding government accountable are going to flourish, they are going to have to do so in the new world of the news, not the one that used to exist.”
* We are headed down a road that will further magnify the “greater disparities in knowledge between news dropouts and news junkies, as well as greater ideological polarization in both the news-attentive public and the news media.”
* “Although daily journalism may be losing its economic foundation, it has not lost its justification.”
* “Our new technologies do not retire our old responsibilities.”