This book charts the rise and fall of the newspaper as the primary medium for the conveyance of news. The book focuses on two of the most influential media markets in the modern world-Great Britain and the United States between 1688 and 1995. In 1688, Parliament created institutional arrangements that would hasten the rise of the newspaper as the dominant medium for the circulation of news. In 1995, the National Science Foundation commercialized the Internet, encouraging an astonishing proliferation of information on all manner of topics, including the news. Per capita newspaper circulation had been declining for decades, partly due to shifting social norms, and partly due to the rise of broadcast news. The Internet exacerbated this trend, partly because it provided a cheaper news source, and partly because it quickly became a superior vehicle for advertising, a major source of revenue for newspaper publishers for over two-hundred-years. However, only rarely has advertising revenue and direct sales covered costs. Almost never has the demand for news generated the revenue necessary for its supply.
Non-market institutional arrangements have ranged from direct government subsidies to organizational forms that enabled news organizations to cooperate. From a historical perspective, the large profits reaped by a handful of newspaper publishers in the post-Second World War era were anomalous, and in no sense a baseline for public policy. Never again will the newspaper be the dominant news medium. To guarantee an informed citizenry in the future, it is necessary to understand how the news business worked in the past. This book is organized around eight essays-each written by a distinguished specialist, and each explicitly comparative. Its theme is the indispensability in both Great Britain and the United States of non-market institutional arrangements in the provisioning of news.