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Head of Journalism Foundation Says Newspapers Need to
Reinvent Themselves in Digital Age

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While Penn Law’s Ed Baker agrees that online communications are broadening the parameters of free speech, he questions the lack of quality control. “It’s like going up to the first 50 people you see on the street and asking, ‘What’s the news today?’ You would just get a lot of conversation, and maybe a lot of ideas. My concern is, Will there be enough Web sites with the resources to do full-time investigative journalism?”

Indeed, newspapers will need to generate revenue to support these new forms. And up to now, publishers have not been able to turn their Web sites into cash cows. According to the Newspaper Association of America, readership is growing but advertisers have stayed away, fearing that online readers have shorter attention spans than print readers. As a result, web ads command far lower rates than print. Bottom line: newspapers are getting only six percent of their ad income from their Web sites. And while experts expect those revenues to climb, as aging print readers are replaced by younger online readers, most feel it will take until 2020 to reap the Internet harvest.

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