The Boston Globe: 50-50 odds it will perish

Newspapers are like derivatives. With one exception, their value depends on the success of others. They provide information about things that other people do. And they make money off that by selling advertising to companies seeking to reach people who are willing to pay a small subscription fee to read that information. If the car or high tech industries are minting money, they're willing to throw some of their money at the newspaper. If not, they retrench.

Meanwhile, other parts of the newspaper business -- like the former gold mine classified advertising -- are gone forever thanks to Monster.com, Craigslist and others. In the face of these business challenges, newspapers started to give away their content for free online and sell advertising there. Meanwhile, the one exception I mentioned above -- investigative reporting which is an important pillar of our society (and wins prestigious prizes) while keeping our institutions honest -- has no visible means of financial support.