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Are the days of the ink-stained wretch over?

by Paul Jay, CBC News Online

Here in Toronto, with the city's four major news dailies and two commuter papers (not to mention the countless ethnic newspapers and entertainment weeklies), it's sometimes difficult to imagine that what media industry analysts have been saying for years could be true: the ink-and-paper newspaper as we know it dying.

But it's getting easier to believe. Especially in light of comments made by newspaper publishers like the New York Times's Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

According to an interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Sulzberger is so concerned with the internet version of the paper that the print edition is out of his mind.

"I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don't care either," he says.

Among the reasons the shift makes sense for newspapers is the high cost of paper editions. "[Internet] costs aren't even near what print costs," Sulzberger explained. "The last time we made a major investment in print, it cost no less than a billion dollars. Site development costs don't grow to that magnitude."

Whether newspapers can withstand the changing flow of information towards the more Web 2.0, community sphere direction the internet is heading in is another matter. Older ideas like certification have never really taken off as a means of distinguishing a blogger from a news organization reporter, and for his part Sulzberger thinks what will distinguish his paper is that Timesian take on the world.

In a line that could have been uttered by Spalding Gray in The Paper, he said: "We are curators, curators of news. People don't click onto the New York Times to read blogs. They want reliable news that they can trust."

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