Claremont McKenna College alum Helena Bottemiller Evich has an important article at her Food Fix newsletter:

here are many factors at play here. One biggie is that the business model for a large-scale national digital publication has essentially crumbled. There was a time when media outlets got a healthy amount of traffic from platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and they could monetize that traffic (usually with ads). That era is over. Social platforms have largely pivoted away from news. Many news outlets, in their quest to reach more and more eyeballs, outsourced their content distribution to tech giants that they can’t control, and they are now paying the price.


It’s all likely to get worse as Big Tech increasingly pivots toward AI tools, which are much more likely to answer questions (with bot-regurgitated information) instead of sending someone directly to news sources like NPR or the New York Times. Publishers are already reporting significant drops in traffic from Google – a harbinger of further declines to come.


Here’s an example: If you’re curious about the recent Baltimore bridge collapse, you can now ask an AI bot for a summary of what happened and why. This kind of tool skips over the need to visit the Baltimore Sun or the Baltimore Banner, two local news outlets providing on-the-ground reporting that’s both essential and requires significant resources to produce. It also eliminates the need to read CNN, Associated Press, the Washington Post, etc.