On the one hand, the shuttering of Culture11 and the dissolution of Pajamas Media's blogger ad network are the sort of unfortunate events that you'd expect in a downturn: Startups and experimental business models always do badly in economic crunches. But given how badly things are going for the media's established business model, and the work that it sustains - and here I recommend Conor Friedersdorf, late of Culture11, on what the collapse of local newsgathering can mean for a city - I hope I'll be forgiven for seeing their fate as a particularly grim indicator of just how far we are, amid the ongoing crack-up of print journalism, from having anything capable of replacing it.
Albeit in very different (and small-scale) ways, Culture11 and Pajamas Media were trying to model the kind of low-overhead, disaggregated, bloggy form of journalism that the relative optimists - like our own Michael Hirschorn - have been predicting will eventually occupy at least some of the space being vacated by newspapers and magazines. And their models failed: One no longer exists, and the other is doubling down on "Joe the Plumber" webTV. This doesn't mean that similar publications and networks won't eventually succeed, obviously. But it's a reminder of how far away "eventually" might be, and of why people keep talking up endowments as the only plausible way of keeping certain forms of journalism going in the post-print age - because the old business model is dying without anything cropping up that seems remotely capable of taking its place. One Huffington Post, I'm afraid, does not a dynamic new-media future make ...
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