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How Do You Like Your News?

April 15th, 2009

newspaperIf you answered the above question, “Online,” you aren’t alone.  Obviously.  And people (like me) who work for a media organization (print, radio, tv, or even online) are obsessed with what it all means.  A day does not go by when someone I know doesn’t start in on the fate of newspapers.

Wha’ happened?  Newspapers used to be ubiquitous - almost everyone had at least one subscription.  It wasn’t even an option in most households.  Across ethnic, cultural, economic and geographic lines, people started their day reading.  It’s not the reading that’s putting people off, book sales are up.  It can’t really be that we are more busy.  Men used to read a daily paper after working 12-hour days, six days a week before the war.

And, I don’t care what people say about finding news online. Sports scores, breaking news, weather, maybe - but tv has been offering that for years (that’s essentially free as well).  Online is all about being your own content aggregater, which is great if you know what to search for.  The thing that newspapers provide are the stories that aren’t on your list.  You read a newspaper to become better informed about a broad range of subjects, many that you didn’t even know existed before you were half-way through the article.  Reading a paper is simply a different activity from picking up a story here and there online.

So, what does that mean about our future? Will we all have to cart around Kindles if we want a broader outlook? Will our society become increasingly narrow-focused and less creative?  How would a newspaper-less world affect innovation?  Or diversity?  If you never read an unexpected story about a different world, would you be more or less likely to venture out of your own community?

Considering how much “online” news (and a lot of local broadcast) is really repurposed print reporting, newspapers disappearing means less content in every news-stream.  I believe (though I certainly don’t have stacks of research to back me up) that newspapers would rise again in the vacuum. It’s happened before. It’s human nature to want to know what’s going on - really know and deeply understand the world in which they live.

I heard a story today that Vivian Goodman did about the new YouTube orchestra. The musicians audition with YouTube videos, practiced together virtually and then performed (tonight actually) in Carnegie Hall. When she was talking to one of the young musicians, I was struck by the fact that he didn’t find out about the contest online. His mom read about it - in the newspaper.

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  1. Carol Ver Wiebe
    April 16th, 2009 at 10:20 | #1

    As a journalism graduate and, at one time, a newspaper reporter, I am concerned about the changing news presenting scene. Just this morning as I read our very good paper I was struck by the placement of the news. The front page was all local news, with national and international news on inside pages of the front section. The Metro section was all local news. I thought, that is the way it should be. Where else would we get a permanent record of life and activity in Fort Wayne, Indiana? If our news were only on line how could I cut out an article to send to my children or friends in another city?

  2. April 18th, 2009 at 19:39 | #2

    If I thought subscribing to the full week of the local paper (as opposed to the weekend which we get) I’d subscribe in a blaze of citizenship. But the real pressure on newspapers is on the ad side, especially classified ads which the internet has killed. Generally speaking the internet has made it possible to advertise more efficiently. Turns out that inefficient advertising is crucial to the newspaper business model.

  3. Gerry Mallaghan
    June 16th, 2009 at 01:28 | #3

    Hi
    My name is Gerry and I am a teacher at a school in leicester. I am working with some students and we found an image of a newspaper on your blog “How Do You Like Your News?” that we would like to use as part of our new online newspaper that we are developing. Is this image your creation? If so can we have permission to use it, if not can you tell me who does own the rights to the image.
    Many thank

  4. June 19th, 2009 at 09:06 | #4

    It’s not mine - I think I found it online. Either that or in the microsoft image library. Good luck!

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