Excerpted from the New Yorker, Dec. 22, 2008. "News You Can Lose" by James Surowiecki
"Newspaper readership has been slowly dropping for decades—as a percentage of the population, newspapers have about half as many subscribers as they did four decades ago—but the Internet helped turn that slow puncture into a blowout. Papers now seem to be the equivalent of the railroads at the start of the twentieth century—a once-great business eclipsed by a new technology...
"Does that mean newspapers are doomed? Not necessarily. There are many possible futures one can imagine for them, from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to that old standby the deep-pocketed patron. It's even possible that a few papers will be able to earn enough money online to make the traditional ad-supported strategy work.
But it would not be shocking if, sometime soon, there were big American cities that had no local newspaper; more important, we're almost sure to see a sharp decline in the volume and variety of content that newspapers collectively produce."