There’s a lot to disagree with in Walter Pincus’ CJR essay “Newspaper Narcissism: Our pursuit of glory led us away from readers” but I find it to be a welcome tonic anyway. I think it’s pretty clear that the financial problems of the news business extend beyond the issue of declining readership. But it’s also totally clear that it’s better, financially, to have more readers rather than fewer. And while it’s by no means obvious that doing better work is the best way to get more readers, I do think it’s absolutely vital for people working in the media to have some kind of faith that doing a good job and attracting an audience are related issues.
At any rate, it would be wishful thinking to assume that if everyone just rolled up their sleeves and did the job right that the money would inevitably follow. But quality issues are relevant. And most of all, for people who are actually engaged in the process of writing about the news, trying to do a better job of writing about the news is the aspect of the situation that we’re most in a position to do something about.