What can be counted, and what counts

  @FortuneMagazine January 16, 2014: 7:03 AM ET
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Nearly every day someone starts up a new news media company. And nearly every day you read about the struggles of existing news media companies. It's an easily explained paradox: The new ones are digital endeavors horning in on the old ones, which weren't digital at inception and have hidebound ways and high cost structures. But there's more to it than that. Most of the newbies don't practice the same type of journalism or create the same type of content as the oldies. Just as TV producers take advantage of their medium's ability to transmit moving images, so do digital producers leverage the web's dirt-cheap distribution and sharing capability.

Digital media is reshaping the news business in a zillion positive ways. More people have more access to more information faster -- by orders of magnitude -- than 20 years ago. Anyone can become a practitioner too: Just open up WordPress and shoot! All of this engenders transparency and democratization, and who's not for that? Still, I wonder if anything is lost in this reordering. Some say unequivocally no. Or they might say, "If you count the metaphorical buggy-whip manufacturers going out of business, they lose, but that's it." I think the answer is more nuanced.

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