“We’re not heading toward a dystopian future in which no one produces hard news,” concludes Tim Lee in a post I basically agree with.
Something important to keep straight in this kind of conversation is the difference between the interests of hard news reporters (which I think are and will continue to be, adversely effected by digitization) and the putative concern for the “health of our democracy” as expressed by the ability of the news business to generate an informed citizenry. In this case we’re not worried about a dystopian future in which no one produces hard news, we’re worried about a future in which no one consumes hard news.
I think this looks like a mixed bag. The basic reality of the matter is that we already live in a society where the voters are almost completely ignorant of everything they need to know to be functioning members of a democratic public. People can’t name the elected officials who represent them, and in general seem to have very little interest in politics. The good news, I think, is that thanks to the internet you can at least look this stuff up. If you’re curious, you can use Google and figure out who represents you in the State Senate and find out a thing or two about what he’s up to. Dutifully receiving your daily gigantic bundle of newsprint and then ignoring the stories about state government might make the guy who writes the stories about state government feel better, but it doesn’t actually provide you with information.