- The professionalization and creation of "objective" journalism in the 1920s
- Movies, 1920s
- Radio, 1930
- Mass migrations caused by Great Depression and World War II, dislocating communities and families
- Television, 1950s
- Birth of suburbs, automobile, decline of mass transit, 1950s
- Shoppers, i.e. PennySaver, (not sure when they started, but let’s put them in the 1960s)
- Unrest of 1960s, distrust of mainstream institutions, rise of alternative press
- Wal-Mart and other Big Box retailers in the 1980 and 1990s, putting out of business traditional newspaper advertisers (at higher margins than pre-prints from Big Boxes), often with help of government subsidies.
- Cable television, and not just more news, but more choices.
- Digital media and all that comes with it — more choices, greater competition for attention, craigslist, more competition for advertising dollars, etc.
If you fail to look at the decline of newspapers in context of the historical arch of events, and you fail to see that the same forces driving down circulation are the same forces decreasing community involvement and civic engagement, then you’ll never have a clue how to solve the problem. If you don’t see the whole picture, you’ll look for quick fixes like government aid or legislation, grants and annuities, paid content or just whine about "society can’t function without us."
The solution lies in figuring out why increasingly society is deciding it doesn’t need us and fixing that problem, not in hair-brained schemes that attempt to force journalism on the masses.