Amanda, a few things in response…
1.) I was just having this conversation with someone over the weekend, ironically. Our discussion was this: What separates traditional print media from any “regular Joe”? Put another way, 10 years ago (only), what made a daily newspaper the pillar of journalism was quite literally the power of the press. The huge investment in infrastructure, with respect to the printing presses themselves, the distribution channels, access to the elite journalists, etc. In an online world, the playing field is leveled. There is no infrastructure cost. The cost to produce nytimes.com is no different than the cost to “produce” tomnixonnewsoftheday.com. So, think 10 years from today…Why would the news consumers of tomorrow need daily newspaper (websites) at all, and will there be any residual legacy affinity to traditional print media, such as yours to the Times or Journal in the way you described it? Seems doubtful.
2.) What seems to be thriving are both media and businesses serving very targeted and specific niches. Trade journals are one example. Community-based websites are another. Perhaps what is really dying or struggling is a generalist business model, one that aims to deliver all kinds of news to all sorts of people. Look at today’s sections of your daily newspapers. Can’t one get better sports at espn.com, better gossip at perezhilton.com, better world news at cnn.com, and so on? Again, look 10 years into the future. Won’t today’s grade schoolers, raised on the Internet, look around when they become news consumers and wonder why we’re going to dailynewspaper.com instead of some more targeted, more devoted news source on a given area of subject matter?
3.) Still struggling with the “fair and balanced” issue, but I’ll reserve those comments for my political blog.