This is an unfinished blog post imported from the Disintermedia project on CoActivate.
In the age of print, it made sense for newspapers to include many different types of information their readers might want, from news and sport results, and weather reports, to tide charts and horoscopes, as well as the classified ads that funded most of their costs. It used up a lot of resources to get a single page of news from the journalist's typewriter into the hands of readers, both in the printing and distribution, but the per-page cost dropped drastically the more pages were added to an edition. In the case of ad-supported commercial papers, getting enough readers to interest advertisers in funding the whole thing required a lot of distribution resources (paper sellers, transport etc), and adding pages made more room for ads (classifieds and features) as well as news and editorial content.
There's been a lot of myth-making over the past few years about the commercial news media. A lot of pointing to famous acts of investigative journalism like Watergate, and claiming that prior to social media (and the net in general) salting the earth of the media landscape with "fake news", Woodward and Bernstein's standard of journalism was typical of the content and social impact of newspaper, radio and television news media.
By the late 90s most of the commercial news media had been acquired by a steadily smaller number of global media corporations. We were using the net to set up independent media outlets because the "mainstream" corporate media were regularly broadcasting actually fake news about "weapons of mass destruction" and the US military "bringing democracy to the Middle East". It was independent, often online media that broke the stories about soldiers poisoned by depleted uranium and the use of cluster bombs that kill civilians for years after the conflict.
But even if these myths of the commercial news media as the home of rigorous, truth-seeking journalism were true, a quick glance at the front page of most commercial "news" websites makes it clear those days are long gone. The few valiant attempts at proper journalism are lost in the flood of clickbait sensationalism (if it bleeds it leads), muck-raking gossip masquerading as "political reporting", advertorials lightly concealed as "lifestyle" stories, and celebrity blogs ("columns").
In the digital age, we can have websites that contain only news. First-hand reporting, and investigative journalism that carefully verifies primary sources, instead of regurgitating common claims as if they were gospel truth, merely by virtue of having been published in other news sources. Commentary, whether by editors and journalists or by members of the public (op-eds and letters to the editor), can have its own websites. Celebrity trivia and other infotainment content can have its own paparazzi sites.
A single media organization might operate a number of these, even more than one of the same kind. But ideally each would have its own staff and total editorial independence from both its owners and its stablemate publications. Why not get more ambitious? What if every news website was co-owned by the journalists that work for it, as a cooperative or social enterprise? What if funding came from subscribers instead of ads, so that readers are pooling funds to pay the salaries of journalists whose work they value, instead of being sorted as an audience and sold to advertisers.