As a young boy growing up in the 1930s and 1940s, I had a daily selection from among twelve newspapers ranging from the Communist Daily Worker on the left to the right wing Daily Mirror. There was no need to have a computer access these periodicals, one simply hung around the newstand and read whatever one desired. However, recent news indicates the United States is witnessing the death of a large segment of its newspapers. The Gannett news chain has given all employees a week of unpaid vacation in order to save money. Circulation is down even at the New York Times, and hundreds will shortly be dismissed. Once upon a time important newspapers maintained reporters on a permanent basis in cities throughout the world, but today such events are handled by CNN or a few other outlets.
The New York Times website has announced in December its online newspaper received 18.2 million hits which was a rise of six percent and other key newspapers like USA Today and the Wall Street Journal had similar experiences. Total visits to the top ten newspapers was 252 million, a rise of 34% over previous years.
Nielsen Online figures indicate the average web surfer spends about a minute on a page. To read an excellent columnist requires time and thinking. We are entering the world of non-thinkers and short term readers. Will that world produce a better educated population?