Presses We've all been hearing an awful lot lately about newspapers facing bankruptcy and cutting the size of their staffs.

(As Jon Stewart put it recently, "What's black and white and completely over?")

But here's an even more sobering thought. In the very near future -- like the next 18 months -- newspapers and media groups across the country could likely default on their debt and close up shop, leaving "several cities" without a daily newspaper, according to a recent report from Fitch Ratings.

"Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010," the Chicago-based credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.

Of course this is bad news for good governance: A decline in daily newspapers means fewer eyes will be watching city hall.

Some of the void will be filled by blogs and hyper-local news websites. Rob Gurwitt actually wrote about that shift in the December 2006 issue of Governing   (although the landscape has undoubtedly changed drastically in the two years since Rob's story). But although blogs have started gaining some of the cache and respect that had been associated with local newspapers, they still largely lack the resources to follow stories in the same way.

"Stop the presses" never sounded so ominous.