American journalism is collapsing as newspapers and magazines fail and scores of reporters are laid off across the country. Conventional wisdom says the Internet is to blame, but veteran journalists and media critics Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols disagree. The crisis of American journalism predates the Great Recession and digital media boom. What we are witnessing now is the end of the commercial news model and the opportune moment for the creation of a new system of independent journalism, one subsidized by the public and capable of safeguarding our democracy.
Two respected media authorities, McChesney, a radio host of Media Matters, and Nichols, the Nation's Washington, D.C., correspondent, spell out the rapid decline of and possible financial solutions for American journalism in their new book. The "Old School" print journalism empire, the authors write, is crumbling: weeklies and daily newspapers closing down; thousands of reporters and editors getting the pink slip, and Washington bureaus and other areas of federal government assigned less coverage. Although McChesney and Nichols point out the true culprits in the fall of the national press, such as the Internet, the ownership of the press and TV news shows by profit-hungry large media conglomerates, and hard economic times, they are excessively upbeat when calling for "a new era of experimentation" in which a hybrid of old and new media emerges. In this powerful book on the shrinking American media, the authors accurately explain its current crisis, but fall somewhat short in solving the many challenges confronting journalism, including major subsidies when the public has little stomach for that.