So many layoffs at newspapers. See NewspaperDeathWatch.com and McClatchy Watch, along with a Time magazine piece, 10 Most Endangered Newspapers", and the NYT's "4 Michigan Cities Losing Daily Papers." The New York Times can no longer boast it has "all the news that's fit to print." Nor can the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "cover Dixie like the dew."
With dramatic decreases in advertising during the recession and circulation losses of five percent or more per year, daily newspapers are an endangered species. Even newspapers in high-growth states like NC that should be profitable, like North Carolina's Charlotte and Raleigh papers, are saddled with a staggering corporate debt that is leading to rapid contraction and consolidation that might have been avoided if they weren't owned by debt-ridden McClatchy. G.D. Gearino explains why The N&O won't be sold until it is "pried from McClatchy’s cold, dead fingers."
But newspapers do have a future as local, local, local weeklies and monthlies. Kurt Ross, editor of the weekly Carrboro Citizen, started just two years ago, has a good piece on the future of newspapers from his own successful experience building a free 5,000-circulation newspaper.
I think we will also see the emergence of more non-profit and advocacy journalism. John Hood of the conservative John Locke Foundation made this point in a video interview, that journalism is probably going back to its roots as closely allied with political movements and political parties. I wouldn't be surprised to see a higher profile for the Locke Foundation's monthly newspaper, The Carolina Journal, even as a supplement or insert to the increasingly thin The News and Observer. We've already seen an insert to the N&O of "Community News" from the progressive NC Justice Center. (Probably the Locke Foundation won't wish to support the N&O with an advertising supplement -- just hope "liberal media" operations fold, which might allow truly conservative media to rise from the ashes.)
As short-staffed newspapers no longer have the ability to cover non-profit and advocacy organizations, expect those organizations to step up and increasingly "become the media" in their own right -- not just sending in press releases but hiring reporters to cover events and do investigations from their perspectives and submit fully-sourced stories to newspapers and multiple websites.
"Mainstream media" that tries to straddle the fence between left and right perspectives may diminish, and in its place we could see more truly liberal media and truly conservative media, financed by think-tanks and advocacy groups. Or you may see publishers try to build their (free) publications (online and off) by appealing to only one side of the ideological market or a particular demographic niche. Witness the NC Independent Weekly.