This year, at least five U.S. daily newspapers and uncounted weekly papers have closed in the face of falling advertising revenue, as readers turn to computers and handheld devices to access their primary news sources online.
And now the industry's oldest journal, the 108-year-old magazine Editor & Publisher, is disappearing as well. Its owner, the Neilsen Co., is selling several other magazines, including the popular entertainment-industry publications Billboard and Hollywood Reporter. But it could not find a buyer for the magazine that some call the bible of the newspaper business.
Editor & Publisher, based in New York City, had already scaled back from a weekly to a monthly publication five years ago. It launched a Web site that printed breaking journalism news. That site, too, came down on December 11th.
With a small staff under editor Greg Mitchell, the author of eight books about journalism coverage, Editor & Publisher aggressively attacked biased reporting from both left and right. "The main principle of journalism – besides being accurate and fair – is to be skeptical," Mitchell wrote in his column.
"It's a sad day," Philadelphia Daily News reporter Will Bunch wrote on the online Huffington Post blog. But, he added, the folding of Editor & Publisher gave him hope for journalism's future. "If Greg Mitchell and his small staff can ask the right question and not back down," he wrote, 'then I know it can happen again and will happen again, somewhere else and in some other format – that no-holds-barred journalism is possible even on these weird little newfangled tablets or whatever."
Those newfangled tablets are electronic book readers, one of the handheld devices that helped put endangered newspapers, and the magazine that was their bible, out of business.
Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.