Market Failure — Lack of Public Information

Websites that dig for news as watchdogs

As newspapers fade away, their business model is no longer viable, a new model is appearing to provide news about your governments.  The article mentions several websites that display the work of these “watchdogs” :

There is one in Atlanta, not mentioned, voic.us.

The article does frame the market failure surrounding the demise of traditional news organizations.  I call it a market failure because the market has yet to provide a substitute mechanism to keep citizens informed.  Thought, I could be persuaded to say this is also a public value failure as the public does not seem inclined to invest time (to read and contemplate information on their government and society) nor resources (money to pay for subscriptions).  I guess this is similar to the argument over who is to blame for the demise of American auto companies — the companies for failing to adapt to new types of autos or the public for not demanding American automakers make more fuel efficient and compact vehicles.

From the article:

Mr. Woolley says he has become convinced that the nonprofit model has the best chance of survival. “Information is now a public service as much as it’s a commodity,” he said. “It should be thought of the same way as education, health care. It’s one of the things you need to operate a civil society, and the market isn’t doing it very well.”

Interestingly, Rupert Murdoch says that the news of the death of newspapers is premature:

“The newspaper, or a very close electronic cousin, will always be around,” he said. “It may not be thrown on your front doorstep the way it is today. But the thud it makes as it lands will continue to echo around society and the world.”

So, will the newspaper morph to an electronic cousin?

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