The Press needs (and deserves) all the friends it can get
“A newspaper should have no friends,” wrote Joseph Pulitzer, articulating the spirit of editorial independence that won him the admiration of his readers and an indictment from the US Government.
That spirit is, for the most part, alive and well in newsrooms around the world, but the economics of news publishing and its core proposition – fact-based reporting – are being challenged as never before. While any one newspaper should indeed have no friends, the Press as a whole needs as many as it can get.
The pressure on the news business is coming from all directions: from the digital media duopoly of Google and Facebook, from the changing habits of consumers, from fake news, even from the political podium.
The long-term decline in the sales of printed newspapers is now matched by falling commercial revenues as advertisers look to digital channels for greater reach, precise targeting of individual consumers and the ability to trigger an immediate purchase.
Most publishers’ own digital dreams have yet to be realised, hopes of building a large-scale online advertising business fading as Google and Facebook gobble up the large majority of incremental digital ad spend.
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