The Times, The Post and a few others probably will survive. When the recession ends, advertising will come back, with fewer places to go. There will be a couple of surprises — local papers that execute their transfer to the Web so brilliantly that they will earn a national readership (like the old Manchester Guardian in England). Or some Web site might mutate into a real Web newspaper.
With even half a dozen papers, the American newspaper industry will be more competitive than it was when there were hundreds. Competition will keep the Baghdad bureaus open and the investigative units stoked with dudgeon. Competition is growing as well among Web sites that think there is money to be made performing the local paper’s local functions. One or two of these will turn out to be right. And then, who will pay even a nickel for the hometown rag?