Some blogs cheer the news that newspaper readership is declining. Whether from the left or the right, they think newspapers are biased or otherwise deficient, and that’s why newspapers are losing readership. These bloggers see the hard evidence of readership decline as the end result of many people voting with their feet (or eyes, as the case may be), instead turning to a wide variety of online sources for their news.
From the point of view of investigative journalism, it isn’t good that newspaper readers are declining because it means newspapers have less money to invest in lengthy investigations. Online enthusiasts (including, sometimes, me) will say this can be compensated for to some extent by encouraging and training bloggers to investigate.
A note by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press makes the point that with declining newsroom budgets, newspapers are also much less willing to spend money on lawsuits.
“Beset by newsroom cutbacks and declining revenue, news groups are fighting fewer battles over public records — and government officials are getting hip to the trend, according to a panel of journalists at a National Press Club event in Denver this week.”
Although the unpaid legions of bloggers can, and sometimes do, break important news from investigations–and with more training, can do even more–they’re not going to be able to cough up the $20,000 or $50,000 it takes to school a city or county or state agency in the errors of their anti-FOIA ways via legal action.