With smaller news resources and the industry downsizing its employee-hiring, who will gather information needed to sustain a democracy, to serve as the watchdog over our key institutions, to document our everyday life, and to act on behalf of the people who don’t have the news media’s access to authorities or the ability to influence them? Will blogs and other Internet news services eventually replace newspapers?
It is, of course, not possible to know for sure what will happen in the future. We can only speculate. My own speculation is that blogs and other services would be able to replace traditional media for the purposes you mention. However, it is likely that traditional media will continue to exist. They will continue to play part of their watchdog role and will be supplemented by blogs.
The mass media will not disappear completely. National newspapers like the New York Times have moved to a pay system for their internet content. Because of this, they are likely to be able to continue to stay in business. They will likely be able to continue to act as watchdogs.
At the same time, however, blogs and other such outlets will become important. There are so many blogs today that are strongly motivated (largely for partisan reasons) to uncover wrongdoing in government. Collectively, these blogs will be able to cover a wide variety of issues. They will play a very prominent role as watchdogs in our current system.
Because blogs will be strongly motivated to act as watchdogs, and because traditional media are finding ways to remain in business, we will continue to have entities to act as watchdogs in our behalf.