"There is a chance that historians will examine this period in American history and wonder if journalism left the field."
That’s David Carr in today’s New York Times, who considers the future of investigative reporting in the wake of last week’s layoffs at the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper.
But, in looking for a silver lining, Mr. Carr offers this sort-of-unconvincing argument: "[K]eep in mind that later this week, Rupert Murdoch, the most successful of the modern media titans, is taking over The Wall Street Journal. He has made it clear that he will invest in the business newspaper to turn it into a source of general news. If the future of news were really so grim, would Mr. Murdoch be interested?"
But, though Mr. Murdoch looks likely to pour money into the paper, it’s not clear that he intends to invest in the kind of long-term, public-service-oriented enterprise reporting whose decline Mr. Carr’s column laments. Indeed, a quick look at Mr. Murdoch’s effect on other papers — in particular The Times of London — suggests the opposite could be closer to the case.