Slovenly documentarian Michael Moore has a pretty good idea about why America's newspaper industry is in the toilet! 1) Greed; 2) Americans are dumb; 3) Republicans.
Moore had a press conference this morning about his upcoming movie I Hate Capitalism. He went off on a rant about the newspaper industry that is both surprisingly insightful, and unsurprisingly rooted in a Chomskyite capitalist critique! His remarks were transcribed in full by the National Post, so all are [sic]. His main points:
1. In Europe, papers get more revenue from circulation than from ads, so they have an incentive to put out a quality news product. Here, newspapers are ad-supported, and they've cut their content down to shit. Then he quotes David Simon, as is the law in such an argument.
2. "We live in a nation of 40 million functional illiterates: that's 40 million adults who cannot read and write above a fourth grade or fifth grade level. We have another probably 40 million adults who can read and write above a fourth grade level but don't have the comprehension beyond that very much. So if you have literally that many tens of millions of adults who either can't read and write above a fourth and fifth grade level or can't comprehend what they do read, you've created a nation of people who are not going to be reading the newspapers." No matter how hard they try, newspapers will never be able to become as dumb as Americans. It's a fact!
3. Republicans hate the Department of Education and thereby contribute to this widespread American illiteracy; nevertheless, Moore says, "In the 17 elections between 1940 and 2004, the majority of American newspapers endorsed the Republican candidate for President 14 of the 17 elections." Vote Republican and die, newspapers.
Also, you know, the XBox is just too fun. Read his whole speech at The Ampersand.