FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
A rapidly unfolding story like the earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami and nuclear concerns that followed shows the strengths of the news media but at the same time exposes its limits.
The Japan earthquake hit about 12:45 a.m. ET last Friday morning. Internet news sites, blogs and cable television broke the story right away and stayed with it. Newspapers on the other hand scrambled to get such a late breaking story to print... and could only report so much before the presses got rolling. "Hot off the presses" wasn't so hot when it hit doorsteps across the country, so readers relied on other outlets to find out the latest.
A new report from the Pew Center's Project of Excellence in Journalism says 41 percent of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from the Internet. That's up 17 percent - more than double - from a year earlier. And that number's likely to grow. The internet not only provides up-to-the-minute news to anyone who's interested, but in the case of Japan, also puts them one-click away from humanitarian aid websites, groups that are helping loved ones find each other, and opinion blogs.
And laptops, smartphones and electronic tablets like the iPad are making the Internet easily accessible almost everywhere.
Here's my question to you: Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES(L), CNN (R)
We - meaning those of us in television news - may soon go the way of the dinosaurs.
A new report shows that the Internet is gaining on television as Americans' main source of national and international news.
The Pew survey shows overall 41% of those polled say they get their news from the Internet - that's up 17 percent from just three years ago.
Television still tops the list as the main news source at 66%, but that number is down significantly from 82% as recently as 2002.
Newspapers and radio are at the bottom of the heap in this survey.
Although the use of the Internet for news is growing among all age groups - it's especially pronounced among young people.
For the first time in 2010, the Internet was the main source of news for those under 30 years old.
There are also differences when it comes to education and income.
The survey found college graduates are just as likely to get their news from the Internet as television, while those who only have a high school diploma are much more likely to say TV is their top source of news.
When it comes to money, it's not a big surprise that wealthier people are more likely to get their news from the Internet than those with incomes under $30,000.
So - take a good look at Wolf and me while you still have the chance!
Here’s my question to you: Is the internet destined to replace television as the primary source of news?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
There are plenty of contenders, but San Francisco might become the first major American city without a daily newspaper. The San Francisco Chronicle continues to lay off staffers in an attempt to stay afloat. The city's mayor, Gavin Newsom tells the British magazine The Economist that if the newspaper does disappear, "People under 30 won't even notice."
The mayor's office later clarified those comments, saying Newsom was talking about the physical version of the paper; and that lots of young people get their news online, like on the San Francisco Chronicle's web site.
And that's exactly the point. The internet and the recession are threatening the survival of newspapers around the country. As they see fewer advertising dollars coming in, more personnel including reporters get laid off.
Several cities have already lost the print versions of a daily newspaper; like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Denver's Rocky Mountain News. And the health of even larger newspapers - including The New York Times - has been called into question.
The Economist asks whether it matters if the daily newspaper is killed. After all, technological change has destroyed lots of popular products, and we've survived. But news isn't just a product; in a democracy, the press exists to investigate and criticize the government.
And local newspapers are the best source of aggressive reporting on local issue - school boards, municipal courts, city councils and the like.
Nonetheless, the end of the daily newspaper wouldn't necessarily mean the end of news organizations. Instead they'll have to find a business model that works online. Right now, most online news content is free. That doesn't pay the bills either.
Here’s my question to you: Would you notice if your daily newspaper disappeared?
(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)
The government might step in and help rescue the struggling newspaper industry. Democratic Senator Benjamin Cardin has introduced a bill that would allow newspapers to operate like nonprofit organizations - kind of like public broadcasting stations.
The "Newspaper Revitalization Act" would let newspapers choose a tax-exempt status; they wouldn't be able to make political endorsements anymore, but could report on all issues - including political campaigns.
Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax-exempt; and contributions made to help support coverage would be tax deductible.
The Maryland senator says his bill is aimed at saving local newspapers, not large conglomerates. He calls the demise of the newspaper industry "a real tragedy for communities across the nation and for our democracy." And he's right.
The head of the newspaper industry's trade group calls the bill a positive step; although he agrees the approach may not work for all newspapers. Newspaper subscriptions and advertising revenue have dropped significantly in the last few years with more people getting their news from the internet or cable TV. Several newspapers have either stopped daily publications or announced they may have to stop publishing; while others have filed for bankruptcy protection, had layoffs, or announced employee furloughs.
Here’s my question to you: Should the government be involved in saving the newspaper industry?
From CNN's Jack Cafferty:
"How to Save Your Newspaper: A Modest Proposal.” That's the cover story of TIME magazine this week. In it, Walter Isaacson – former managing editor of Time and the current CEO of the Aspen Institute – as well as my former boss here at CNN – writes how the crisis in journalism has reached meltdown proportions. He says we can now imagine a time when some big cities will no longer have a newspaper, saying that last year more people in this country got their news online for free than paid for it by buying newspapers and magazines.
News outlets now primarily rely on advertising revenue and not on newsstand sales and subscriptions.
Isaacson describes how news outlets now primarily rely on advertising revenue and not on newsstand sales and subscriptions. He says that in order for newspapers to survive they will have to charge for content by way of subscriptions. He also suggests introducing an easy payment system – like how people buy songs on i-Tunes or use an EZ pass.
It's clear that with the decline of advertising dollars, newspapers are in deep trouble. Publisher McClatchy reported a $21.7 million loss for the fourth quarter. It says it plans to cut about $100 million this year, it's unclear how much of that will come in the form of layoffs. Other companies like the New York Times, Gannett and Lee Enterprises have already reported lower profits in that same quarter. And, Rupert Murdoch's giant media conglomerate News Corp posted its biggest ever quarterly net loss this week, taking a write-down of $8.4 billion.
The CEO of another struggling company, the Sun-Times Media Group, says he'll resign at the end of the month – after the company announced last month it would close a dozen of its weekly papers and ask union workers to take a pay cut.
Here’s my question to you: How important is it to save America's newspapers?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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