The digital revolution roiling all media in societies plugged into the Internet (North Korea may disregard this column) is having a profound effect. Paper from trees has become the stone tablet of our time, not quite as hefty in weight of course but in other respects as cumbersome.

But the effect of the digital revolution is not universally even. Economies that are still rapidly developing will feel it less than those that are more mature. China seems to be launching newspapers or magazines almost weekly. In the United States they seem to be folding or changing ownership almost constantly.

Perhaps the digital revolution is in fact hitting hardest here, where the media is accorded a special (indeed constitutionally sanctioned) role. The towering importance of the news media in our political system is well known of course — but not often emulated around the world. It's the rare government that would welcome a media powerful enough to topple it, as The Washington Post helped to do to President Richard Nixon in August 1974.