EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

It should be clear to any reasonable person that there are too few funnels through which will flow most of the world’s entertainment and information. Too few funnels suggests too few individuals making too many decisions about what the world’s population needs to know.”

That observation, from legendary television producer Norman Lear (who turns 100 on July 27!), might sound like a blunt assessment of contemporary journalism—but Lear wrote those words in a special issue of The Nation, where I serve as publisher, in 1996.

Since the frenzy of Big Media consolidation that rocked the 1980s, journalists, media figures and scholars have been issuing such warnings. Yet, for decades, the number of newspapers has kept shrinking—and a report from Northwestern University confirms the severity of the trend. The United States has already lost a quarter of the newspapers that existed even in 2005; each week, two more shut down.

Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.