Thursday, November 03, 2005

Village Voice/New Times merger

The long-gestating merger between the two major alternative weekly conglomerates have finally gone through. What does it mean for devoted fans of lefty weekly rags? And for their staff, some of whom are friends and readers of this blog? The unpredictable Marc Cooper provides this informative and convincing analysis of what's at stake. His take is firmly rooted in reality -- in the actual conditions of the business.

With the emergence of digital information technology, many industries are struggling. Newspaper circulation have been in decline. Cooper alludes to the detrimental effect that Craig's List had on the alt-weeklies. Just as some lament of the distribution crisis facing super-hifalutin art cinema, others lament the inhospitable conditions facing traditional journalism.

We are all attached to certain institutions. My ex-girlfriend used to worry that I'd kill myself diving into a BART track for a discarded NY Times. That's how much I love newspapers. But things change. Like the travel agent racket, various long-standing industries and institutions will continue to change or die. Digital technology has enhanced the ease of consuming information and art while simultaneously diminishing the consumer's patience for long, rigorous works. The changes in the print media reflect overall changes in information consumption. The trade-off yields a net benefit, I think, but the cost of technological change should be acknowledged.