In a most interesting recent report, the OECD did a rundown of the state of the publishing industry today. What they found, not surprisingly, was that newspapers in many countries are in a sad state of decline. The report highlights shows a number of interesting charts and graphs. What do they recommend? Unfortunately, no silver bullet. To quote from the report:
Given the central role of news for democratic societies, the evolutions of news creation and distribution are a matter of public interest. The question is whether and how the production of high-quality and pluralistic news content can be left to market forces alone.
- In the short-term, some OECD countries have put emergency measures in place to financially help the struggling newspaper industry. Moreover, the question is currently being debated what potential roles government support might take in preserving a diverse and local press without putting its independence at stake.
- Support measures and topics being debated include: (i) the improvement or intensification of existing state support policies (direct or indirect subsidies) and an extension to online news providers; (ii) new approaches to the protection of newspaper content, (iii) the relaxation of competition and media diversity laws; (iv) the role of public broadcasters; and (v) the reliability and governance of online news.
Sounds to me as though the fourth estate is in trouble and no one seems to have a great solution.