It doesn't work until it works
Everyone seems to agree that the old print-newspaper business model is broken. But no one can figure out a new, Internet business model that will generate enough money to pay critics and reporters and editors to carry on the vital business of digging up the news and leading the cultural discussion. The Internet is free and some of the most successful sites, political and cultural and otherwise (including ArtsJournal.com), are based on their ability to link to extant newspaper and magazine sites cost-free. When some of those sites have attempted to charge readers for content, their traffic drops precipitously (remember "Times Select," the New York Times's failed attempt to get readers to pay to read their columnists and such?).
But some day soon someone will suddenly and unexpectedly figure out a way to make the Internet pay. As Frank Rich points out today, nobody thought pay-per-view television would work, until it did. Maybe advertisers will rally around some aggregated platform of Internet publications and blogs. Maybe the public radio and television model will gain traction, with loyal readers willing to pay for the privilege of high-level coverage.
As a retiree, I can afford to observe these developments with detached fascination (at least as long as the Times sustains its pension fund). There will be news and there will be arts journalism and criticism. But what form it will take is pretty exciting to contemplate, however grim the situation may seem now. And when the solution does come, everyone will accept it and wonder why they didn't foresee the advent of something so simple and obvious sooner.