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Media covering their own demise?

North American media have been increasingly fascinated by their own ailments, and the reports begin to look like a collective auto-obituary.

The Hook has been following the fortunes of CanWest Global (closed Friday at 35 cents per share), but the Globe and Mail (owned by CTV Globemedia, closed Friday down 6 cents to $13.58) has dug much deeper.

One report in Saturday's Globe describes potential purchasers of CanWest's specialty channels. Meanwhile, Globe business columnist Derek DeCloet looks for the causes of CanWest's downfall.

Deborah Jones at The Canadian Journalism Project also examines the Aspers' struggle to keep control of CanWest. She sees it as "a behemoth that controls a shocking amount of the information that Canadians can access."

In the US, meanwhile, reporters track the necrotizing of their industry with morbid interest and technological savvy. Jim Romenesko's blog at Poynter Online chronicles many deaths foretold. Newspaper Death Watch tells us five New York daily papers are trying to save money by sharing content.

The New York Times itself has stopped paying dividends for the first time since it went public in 1969:

The decision by the board pre-empts a dividend payment that, on the usual schedule, would have been paid later this month. The annualized savings is just $34.5 million, because the dividend was already cut sharply last fall.

"Today's decision provides the company with additional financial flexibility given the current economic environment and the uncertain business outlook," the company chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement.

In other news: Fading to Black blogs the rapid financial failure of one paper after another. Paper Cuts tallies the layoffs: so far this year, 2,507+. News Corpse deals with the media's political and moral failures, implying that those are the real cause of their demise.

On Twitter, tweets sound more like ravens' croaks, if not the owl calling the media's name. CanMediaLayoffs covers our national scene, and themediaisdying does the same for the Americans.

For more optimistic Twitterers, themediaishuntn offers people a chance to advertise for themselves, while themediaishirin gives them help-wanted ads.

News junkies, long disgusted with the quality of North American media, may cheer the demise of the industry. But they may not be any happier with the next rough beast, its hour come round at last, that slouches toward Times Square to be born.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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