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The Future of Newspapers

If you want to get completely depressed, take a look at C-SPAN.com which is streaming Sen. John Kerry’s hearing on the future of newspapers. Calling the profession a “brave new world,” Kerry is now going through all of the newspapers that have gone under in the past year, and noted that the situation at TV newsrooms is not much better.

Among those testifying at the commerce subcommittee on communications will be Arianna Huffington and David Simon. A little disconcerting is that it looks like Kerry is the only senator present, as the rest of the chairs at the committee table are empty.

Update: A few more seats are filled, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), who has argued for a newspaper bailout, is testifying. He’s proposed extending tax exempt status to newspapers, including such things as not taxing ad revenue.

Simon said, ”High-end journalism is dying in America and unless a new economic model is achieved, it will not be reborn on the Web or anywhere else.”

Huffington offered some optimism in the way of foundation-supported investigative journalism and citizen reporters, but it was hard not to be gloomy.

Kerry lamented the partisan nature of many of the Websites. “It is harder and harder to separate fact from opinion.” And he didn’t seem too keen on bloggers, noting that more and more people are getting their information through “snippets.”

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