The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the Internet coming. They not only saw it miles off, they figured out early on that they needed a plan to deal with it, writes media blogger Clay Shirky.
“If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” newspaper executives asked in the 90s when their lifesource was threatened.
The answer, according to Shirky, is "nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the Internet just broke."
Noting that it's easier to know when something's broken than it is to fix it, Shirky is not without some optimism about the future of the newspaper industry.
"Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism," he writes, adding that the "indistinguishable" bond between journalism and newspapers is no longer a workable formula -- until there's a transition to "new models for journalism."
Shirky says it's going to be a while before the transformation of newspapers into a working business model, but warns newspapers that the "Your going to miss us when we're gone," business model isn't going to save the industry.