Daily paper shrinking

While the growing recession doesn't help, the real reason newspapers are in trouble is lack of readers. "The average age of readers is 55," he said, "and just 30 percent of Americans are now reading the daily paper every day, so it's not the economy, stupid!"

If you factor in online readership of The Post via Syracuse.com, Fiske said, the numbers are encouraging. Online readers are particularly attracted to the interactive nature of the Internet experience where they can comment on stories.

"However in newspapers (on op-ed pages) it's a monitored conversation," the former editorial page editor said, "but the Internet feedback is not monitored and online you go down into the gutter real fast."

Many Internet news sites remain largely unedited and "untrustworthy," he said, "It's a Wild West out there."

Fiske listed 19 possible courses of action to stem the dissolution of dailies including expanding local coverage. "But how can you do that without the bodies to cover the stories? We've got to stop laying people off."

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