Americans are traditionally sentimental towards newspapers. They represent democracy, freedom and all that America was built upon. Yet, in these changing and challenging times, newspapers are no longer reliable employers. Nor are they able to generate revenue. This week, newspapers get a government intervention and are upstaged by new media.

Newspapers Get a New Deal

Newspapers might be getting a federal bailout after all. Last week, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) held hearings to find ways to help the struggling newspaper industry.

In addition, Kerry has scheduled a hearing on May 6 of the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet on “The Future Of Journalism”, while Conyers announced a hearing titled, “A New Age for Newspapers: Diversity of Voices, Competition and the Internet.”  

Why so much attention at the government level on newspapers? Because as Senator Kerry puts it “an independent news media is vital to our democracy.”

Where the Jobs Are: Online

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a few Technorati polls, bloggers are giving lawyers a run for their money. In the US, there are almost as many people making their living as bloggers as there are lawyers, with 452,000 of those using blogging as their primary source of income.

Demographically, bloggers are extremely well educated: three out of every four are college graduates. Most are white males reporting above-average incomes. One out of three young people reports blogging, but bloggers who do it for a living successfully are 2% of bloggers overall.

On a related note. The American Society of News Editors (ASNE) reports that while newsroom employment at newspapers has plunged 11.3% in 2008, with the industry losing some 5,900 jobs -- the biggest drop the organization has recorded since it first started conducting its newsroom employment survey in 1978 -- there was a 21% rise year-over-year in online-only journalists to 2,300, of which 19.6% were minorities.

A Relaunch of Newsweek

Jon Meacham, an editor of Newsweek recently told the Financial Times about its strategy to remake, re-market and reinvigorate the once mighty news magazine.

You can keep doing what you have been doing all the time and march nobly off a cliff or you can adapt and change.

In May, Newsweek seeks to adapt and will launch a prototype of the redesign. Rumor has it it has more white space and bolder photographs. The launch will coincide with a relaunch of that will replace wire copy with links to the best sources of online news.

All in an effort to court a "high-end audience seeking in-depth commentary and reporting", subscription prices are expected to double. Newsweek hopes to save $25m annually by cutting printing and distribution costs.

Focusing on a smaller but devoted readership will allow the magazine to raise advertising rates, although lower circulation will reduce page rates, making attracting smaller, luxury advertisers easier. Think Economist and New Yorker and less Time Magazine.