viernes, abril 04, 2008

Los diarios en la encrucijada

El promedio de edad de los lectores de diarios (los que lo consumen habitualmente) llegó a los 55 años. En el otro extremo, sólo un 19% de los jóvenes de entre 19 y 34 años tienen este hábito. Este tipo de registro, que muchos usan para ponerle fecha de muerte a los diarios, hoy es parte de una discusión mayor: el trabajo de los periodistas y las nuevos modos de aceptar y canalizar la profesión. No sólo los desafíos que plantean las plataformas para multiplicar las formas de narración de un hecho o una historia. También comienzan a tambalearse conceptos como la objetividad, palabra que en los subterráneos de la profesión ya sólo se usa con ironía. Además, las ideologías (que están matizadas, pero no han desaparecido) también han entrado en el juego. Los diarios, por diferentes razones, comenzaron a quedar en la vereda conservadora y es la web la que está concentrando los contenidos liberales, los que no aparecen en los diarios y probablemente, los que muchos jóvenes discuten. En Chile, PalataformaUrbana tiene más de 800 mil visitas únicas mensuales y más de 600 mil. Dos sitios que, en general, manejan contenidos que los diarios deben olvidar. El siguiente artículo del New Yorker, plantea el porqué nos vamos alejando del papel. La suma de razones para un camino sin final evidente.

Por Eric Alterman
Artículo Newyorker
The American newspaper has been around for approximately three hundred years. Benjamin Harris’s spirited Publick Occurrences, Both Forreign and Domestick managed just one issue, in 1690, before the Massachusetts authorities closed it down. Harris had suggested a politically incorrect hard line on Indian removal and shocked local sensibilities by reporting that the King of France had been taking liberties with the Prince’s wife.

It really was not until 1721, when the printer James Franklin launched the New England Courant, that any of Britain’s North American colonies saw what we might recognize today as a real newspaper. Franklin, Benjamin’s older brother, refused to adhere to customary licensing arrangements and constantly attacked the ruling powers of New England, thereby achieving both editorial independence and commercial success. He filled his paper with crusades (on everything from pirates to the power of Cotton and Increase Mather), literary essays by Addison and Steele, character sketches, and assorted philosophical ruminations.

Three centuries after the appearance of Franklin’s Courant, it no longer requires a dystopic imagination to wonder who will have the dubious distinction of publishing America’s last genuine newspaper. Few believe that newspapers in their current printed form will survive. Newspaper companies are losing advertisers, readers, market value, and, in some cases, their sense of mission at a pace that would have been barely imaginable just four years ago. Bill Keller, the executive editor of the Times, said recently in a speech in London, “At places where editors and publishers gather, the mood these days is funereal. Editors ask one another, ‘How are you?,’ in that sober tone one employs with friends who have just emerged from rehab or a messy divorce.” Keller’s speech appeared on the Web site of its sponsor, the Guardian, under the headline “NOT DEAD YET.”

Perhaps not, but trends in circulation and advertising––the rise of the Internet, which has made the daily newspaper look slow and unresponsive; the advent of Craigslist, which is wiping out classified advertising––have created a palpable sense of doom. Independent, publicly traded American newspapers have lost forty-two per cent of their market value in the past three years, according to the media entrepreneur Alan Mutter. Few corporations have been punished on Wall Street the way those who dare to invest in the newspaper business have. The McClatchy Company, which was the only company to bid on the Knight Ridder chain when, in 2005, it was put on the auction block, has surrendered more than eighty per cent of its stock value since making the $6.5-billion purchase. Lee Enterprises’ stock is down by three-quarters since it bought out the Pulitzer chain, the same year. America’s most prized journalistic possessions are suddenly looking like corporate millstones. Rather than compete in an era of merciless transformation, the families that owned the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal sold off the majority of their holdings. The New York Times Company has seen its stock decline by fifty-four per cent since the end of 2004, with much of the loss coming in the past year; in late February, an analyst at Deutsche Bank recommended that clients sell off their Times stock. The Washington Post Company has avoided a similar fate only by rebranding itself an “education and media company”; its testing and prep company, Kaplan, now brings in at least half the company’s revenue.


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