You know how you occasionally come across an article that’s essentially a distillation of what you’d say about a subject if you were, you know, smarter? Well, Michael Hirschorn‘s “End Times” is that article if you’re obsessed with The End of Days for print journalism.
Hirschorn sketches out an apocolyptic future for The Times, one in which the “comfortingly long time frame for the end of print” that most have assumed is actually a matter of months. “what if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” he asks.
With Silicon Alley Insider’s discussion about the paper’s soon-to-be-due loans acting as a jumping off point, the whole piece is an attempt at divining the future of The Times by carefully playing out possible scenarios. Suggestions range from selling out to the likes of newspaper fetishist Rubert Murdoch or Michael Bloomberg as a “trophy property” to selling some of its lesser properties (About.com, for example) to make a quick, sustaining buck.
But while Hirschorn’s resignation to the imminent fate of the Grey Lady is clear, his picture of the event is not one riddled with “I Told You So” dances or clever little death of print graphics. Rather, his report about the ongoing struggle and inevitable demise is one that culminates in a certain fear for the internet-bound future of the craft: “Internet purists may maintain that the Web will throw up a new pro-am class of citizen journalists to fill the void, but for now, at least, there’s no online substitute for institutions that can marshal years of well-developed sourcing and reporting experience—not to mention the resources to, say, send journalists leapfrogging between Mumbai and Islamabad to decode the complexities of the India-Pakistan conflict.”