The end of David Carr's current column in the NY Times is, I think, meant to outrage us. Reporters are being asked to deliver papers. I'm trying to think of what the analog would be in programming. We have to do a lot of menial tasks. Without a pulpit like Carr's on which to tell our tale of woe. But I agree. Having a professional reporter deliver papers is ridiculous.
I think we're really trying to have a negotiation with the big names of journalism. The NY Times and Columbia University are two of the most distinguished. I doubt if they can see the negotiation happening. Perhaps I can shed some light.
We, meaning everyone who doesn't write for the NYT, value their name. If an article appears in The Times it means more to us.
However, the value is diminishing over time. Fact. Impossible to dispute.
If news were working imho we'd be getting a lot more of it, covering a lot more turf. But too much of what we get in news is the same as all other sources of news.
This wasn't such a problem in the old distribution system, which was geographically limited. Example: when I was a college student in New Orleans in the 70s, I'd have to go downtown on Tuesday to pick up the Sunday edition of the Times. I would often do it, because it made me feel closer to home. Today, I live in NYC, and there's a news stand very near my apartment building. I bought the paper there exactly once, because I was going to eat at a nearby diner. I ended up not reading it, instead reading the news on my iPhone. Much faster, and my brain has adjusted to this way of getting informed. Shuffling papers feels like work (it didn't in the past).
I can read stories from the New Orleans paper in New York just as easily. And I do! But not for the same news that's covered by other papers. For ideas and events that are specific to New Orleans.
Also some of us have become decent writers, because the Internet makes us become good writers (or it used to before we were 140-char-limited).
I am interested in reading news written by other people who do what I do. Wouldn't it be cool if some of them, the really smart ones who don't pander too much could write for the Times? And there is the negotiation. The Times is like Don Corleone in the first Godfather movie. You have all the senators, but you refuse to share them. You have the name. I would still like to write for the Times. But there's no way for me to do that. Until you figure out how to flow the good stuff from the web through your name, the name is going to continue to diminish. Of course that's my opinion. Not one that you could read in the NY Times, of course.
Summary: You have to let more of the world in. Or eventually the world will invent what you have with a different name. That's always been the option. The Times should have fully made the transition to the web by now. The biggest part of that transition is allowing more voices to speak directly through your platform.