Matthew Yglesias notes the bizarre nature of the American newspaper business, which is organised as a series of regional monopolies, and one of commenters ponders why the British model of national newspapers hasn’t caught on in the United States.
The geographical size of the United States is a big part of it. Until quite recently, it was technologically impossible to print and distribute a truly national newspaper on a continental scale. Britain is simply a much smaller, more densly-populated place.
What’s most interesting about all this is that segmented monopolies have consequences for the content of newspapers. If you are a regional monopoly, you have to appeal to everyone in a community, you will do your best not to be overtly partisan. In Britain, where there are no regional monopolies, The only way to segment the market is along ideological lines.
A very different ideal of journalism emerges as a result. With geography collapsing as a barrier, is it any wonder the ideal of objectivity in American journalism is increasingly coming under attack as an anchronism?
(I also happen to think that this explains the relative weakness of the British blogosphere, which doesn’t have to make this critique of its mainstream press.)