Where will news come from when the newspapers fold?

Hearst is the latest media company to threaten cuts and sales in reaction to losses, but this time it’s the SF Chronicle, the “best” paper in the SF Bay area. In truth, the Chron won’t fold all that fast, but what is happening in SF underscores, yet again, the collapse of big media, a sector Obama didn’t mention when he talked  about banks and auto makers.

So here’s the question. As big media chains die, and their local newspapers fold, what we will do for centers of news in communities?

And how do we make sure people have access to  open, accurate information, a chance to speak truth to power, and an electronic water cooler to gather round?

Clearly, we’re talking online, but what doesn’t exist yet that will be born? And how do we help it get there?

Gossip guy Perez Hilton says he hit 14  million page views yesterday, beating HuffPo for traffic-obviously, the power of one can be huge –think of Marcus at plenty of fish, Josh at talking points memo, heather at dooce, Markos and the early daily kos)–are there lessons there for local news, community and reporting?

And if yes, how do communities balance that individual committment and passion with the need for in-depth reporting and “objective” coverage of an issue?

If the local paper–and its online branch–folded in your town–would you care? If yes, what would you then do?

More from ken doctor here.