The demise of major urban daily newspapers, which has been foretold for over half a century--roughly since the arrival of television in the early 1950's--finally seems to be upon us. The rise of popular dailies more or less paralleled the industrial expansion beginning in the mid-19th Century (first in Europe), reached a crescendo in the 1920's and 1930's, then began its long period of decline and consolidation beginning in the 1940's. Television directly challenged print media from the Fifties onward, but major dailies held their own, increasingly relying upon ad revenue to make up the shortfall from subscription and street sales. As recently as five years ago, major newspapers were making big profits--reported to be in the neighborhood of 12-20% per annum. Under the Bush Administration, attempts were made to facilitate the consolidation of cross-media conglomerates, generating fears of political homogenization, not surprising given the wholesale elimination or downsizing of news divisions at all levels during the Eighties and Nineties.
It was clear, given the enormous pull of the World Wide Web--its speed and efficiency--that eventually some form of online media news dissemination would challenge other media (newspapers, television, radio), but no one could have predicted that it would happen so quickly. Just as Amazon and Alibris brought about the downfall of both the retail and used book "brick & mortar" businesses, online news services, many of which were maintained by the newspaper organizations themselves (!), have drawn ad attention away from print media, erasing their profit margins almost overnight.