At the root of the problem for newspapers is the increased use of the Internet. A recent Pew Research study found that for the first time ever, more people get news for free online than from a newspaper. Making matters worse, the classified ads, a primary revenue source, have gone online as well.
"Where do people think the news online comes from?" Isaacson asked. "If we kill all the news organizations, and we kill all the newspapers, the richness of what we have online is going to disappear."
Others argue that whether newspapers in their current form survive is becoming less important. New ways of reporting, such as blogging, are emerging every day, and newspapers must adapt.
"The Internet's come along, and it's changed fundamentally the structure of the economy, society and media," said Jeff Jarvis, blogger and author of "What Would Google Do?"
"And we have to deal with that. We have to find sustainable business models that will work for news going on. The point here is to find the new opportunities the Internet provides and not to whine and whine about how the Internet is killing the old ways."
For now, it's survival of the fittest with The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post all posting loses. And San Francisco is hoping it doesn't become the first big city without a big paper.