How the media industry keeps losing the future

Roger Fidler tried his best, but the excellent business of journalism is gone for good. Can the idea of 'news' survive in a digital world?


If the career of Roger Fidler has any meaning, it is this: Sometimes, you can see the future coming but get trampled by it anyway.

Thirty years ago, Mr. Fidler was a media executive pushing a reassuring vision of the future of newspapers. The digital revolution would liberate news from printing presses, giving people portable devices that kept them informed all day long. Some stories would be enhanced by video, others by sound and animation. Readers could share articles, driving engagement across diverse communities.

All that has come to pass, more or less. Everyone is online all the time, and just about everyone seems interested, if not obsessed, by national and world happenings. But the traditional media that Mr. Fidler was championing do not receive much benefit. After decades of decline, their collapse seems to be accelerating.

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