New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has a bleak forecast for the future of print media. Late last week at the International News Media Association World Congress, the editor spoke about the state of journalism, the world, and the newspaper he runs. The conversation was sprawling, but Baquet did have one very specific prognostication to make.
When asked about the future of newspapers, the executive editor said:
The greatest crisis in American journalism is the death of local news . . . I don’t know what the answer is. Their economic model is gone. I think most local newspapers in America are going to die in the next five years, except for the ones that have been bought by a local billionaire.
That is a certainly a depressing outlook. Of course, he’s probably not wrong, either. A recent Pew Research report found that, despite the fact that most Americans believe local news organizations to be doing well, very few are actually paying for those subscriptions. And while print advertising continues to plummet, more small outlets are shutting down.
Baquet works for one of the few journalism organizations that are thriving in the digital age, but even he didn’t have an answer for the local news crisis. “I don’t know what the model is for covering the school boards in Newark, New Jersey,” he said. “That makes me nervous. And despite the fact that there are some rich people championing media, there is no way the entire industry can rely on the kindness of deep-pocketed strangers.”
You can read the full Baquet interview write-up here.