Here's what I wrote back:
If we can migrate successfully to new platforms, master new techniques and learn to operate in today's world of partnerships, alliances, interactivity, audience empowerment and the like, we can become even more successful at our core mission: holding government accountable, building community cohesion, speaking truth to power and the like.
I guess I'd say that Shafer is right in some fundamental sense, although he is
wrong on many specifics. (Interestingly, almost *none* of these noted pundits
ever call us to ask questions about our operations, or the deal, or our
perspective. They just opine.)
What's overarchingly true about The Present Troubles is simply that conditions changed. Newspapers were highly profitable and commanded huge sales prices largely because we used to have
monopoly enterprises with an exclsuive advertising franchise (classifieds) and
very high barriers against competition. None of these three things is true now
(mainly because of the web) and so papers make smaller profits and are worth
when you buy or sell them. It's not about greed or stupidity or malfeasance
(though our industry, God knows, has seen plenty of all three). Things have just
It's not raining on us. It's just raining.
I do think Shafer's right to suggest that the journalism can (and, in my world,
must) survive the economic shifts. That's why we talk constantly about being
mission-driven; I am willing to do what it takes if we can keep honest,
independent journalism at the center of things.
The good news: we're moving there very fast, now, and I have every confidence we'll do so successfully.