Megan's guestbloggers have a good conversation going about what happens to the news business as reporters get bought out, staffs shrink, and people devote more reading minutes to blogs and online-only publications. I have a couple of very quick thoughts to throw out there.
1) I think Tim is probably right that folks like Howard Kurtz overemphasize the value of newsprint. But I think he underemphasizes the impact on newsrooms of large buyouts that lead to the sudden departures of significant numbers of significant staffers. It's bad for the Washington Post to lose Thomas Ricks because he's a great reporter, but it's also bad for them--and the journalism community--to lose someone like Stephen Barr. Steve is not someone I'd wager that most readers of this blog are familiar with; he writes the Federal Diary column, about issues affecting federal workers. In addition to being a good writer and reporter, he's a genuninely nice, helpful guy who made me feel at home as a newbie on the federal workforce beat. When big papers shed senior reporters on small beats, some of those reporters will stay in journalism, and will continue mentoring other writers. But a lot won't just migrate to other publications or to blogs, and their knowledge, and the opportunity to benefit from that knowledge by bumping into them at a hearing or a press conference, won't get passed on.
2) I think Conor is right to worry about the decline in local news, but I think there are some real bright spots on the horizon, too. The New Haven Independent, an online-only publication founded by alt-journalist Paul Bass, has done incredible work, and has become part of a network of Connecticut news sites. I actually wish some bigger organizations would look at those smaller models for inspiration. I think there's a lot to learn from their mix of news reporting, video commentary, and lively message boards.