Skip to comments.Old dudes facing a changing newspaper world
Posted on 04/16/2005 10:21:04 PM PDT by SmithL
What's an old dude to do?
That's how I'd summarize the theme of this year's convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, which took place in Washington, D.C., last week.
For years editors have been wringing their no-longer-ink-stained hands over the future of our venerable business. As newcomer news outlets have blossomed and proliferated, gloom and doom inevitably was forecast for the most mature of the media.
But newspapers have continued to crank out healthy profits, so it has been easy to find silver linings around the dark clouds and hope that no hard rain was actually gonna fall.
Lately, though, a palpable sense of panic can be felt when folks gather to discuss the future of newspapers. The reason: a precipitous decline in readership among young people. In a world swimming with media choices, more and more consumers under age 35 are finding the traditional daily paper irrelevant to the lives.
So what's an old editor dude to do?
Naturally, conferences such as this one provide more questions than answers. They leave participants with a swirl of images and information that only later may coalesce into coherent strategies.
So I share with you some of the tidbits swirling in my brain:
# Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch citing research that 44 percent of people in the 18- to 34-year-old group use an Internet portal daily, while only 19 percent of them open a newspaper.
# The Minneapolis Star Tribune showing off a prototype with a whimsical image of Paris Hilton and a centerpiece story about poker, with a brief guide to Texas Hold 'em, on the front page.
# Encountering an old colleague from Albuquerque who 15 years ago helped me launch an electronic edition of the newspaper on a bulletin board system using a 2400-baud modem.
# Remembering with an earlier Albuquerque friend how we missed the biggest story in town in those days - Bill Gates quietly creating Microsoft before moving it to Washington.
# The laptop computer in my hotel room alerting me to a story commemorating the 60th anniversary of the death of Ernie Pyle, the legendary World War II correspondent killed by a Japanese sniper.
# The editor of The Washington Examiner explaining how billionaire Phil Anschutz - creator of the Regal Cinema empire - now plans to launch free, home-delivered daily tabloids in 69 U.S. cities.
# An e-mail from a list-serv announcing that Yahoo! is launching a new service providing local business news.
# Hearing radio personality Garrison Keillor quoted as saying the reason people buy newspapers is for good writing.
# Listening to a panel of six experts on the future of newspapers and realizing that none of them actually works for a newspaper company. When one was asked what he would do if he were an editor returning to his newsroom after the conference, the panelist answered that he wouldn't take the job.
The conference seemed to come to consensus on two things.
First and obviously, the digital revolution is changing the world, and newspapers must change with it. Even the root word "paper" in newspaper was pointed to as obsolete. Newspapers will continue to evolve into multimedia, digital information sources.
Second, information is no longer the sole possession of media professionals. The Internet has made everyone a potential reporter, editor, publisher and pundit. Newspapers must function more as discussion leaders than as one-way information providers.
In that spirit, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you see for the future of newspapers. Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This old dude needs help.
Be ethical. Report the news without bias. Conduct honest investigative reporting. Run thoughtful editorials. Don't insult the intelligence of your readers. Don't undermine the values and traditions of the local community.
Or go the way of the dinosaur.
The ASNE and the SPJ are one and the same. Let 'em rot.
The newspaper industry has killed more trees than anyone on earth, and recycling is not a perfect art. There's still waste and, of course, delivery costs to the environment by their constant trucking.
Glad to see these old hypocrites go.
Haha! Discussion leaders! This has always been a part of the problem. No one asked them to lead. They were not elected to lead. They annointed themselves as "leaders of discussion." But now, thanks to the digital revolution and the concurrent democritization of printed (digitized) opinion, the precious inky oil they once annointed themselves with has lost its potency.
I don't know what to tell this guy. I don't think they have a future. I haven't picked up a paper newspaper in years.
The average newspaper in the United States consists of the same Associated Press stories that I can read the day before on the Internet, the local random acts of violence which I never really cared about anyway and news of which local politicians have their hand in the till. That, and a bunch of ads.
When you live where I live, and frigging Marion Barry is on your city council, you don't even have to read the paper to know who has his hand in the till. So I have no use for them.
Safeway now sends me the coupons in my email. The other store even has a web site where I can order stuff and they'll deliver it for five bucks.
I really have no clue how a local newspaper can be made to survive. They already slept through having eBay and Craig's List make the classifieds obsolete what have they got left?
Yes he did...and I'm working on a response. Reference bump.
The liberal infestation at newspapers has been a major support system for dumbed-down public education in America.
The fruit of that quest has become a functionally illiterate crop of young people who not only will not, they CANNOT, read a newspaper.
Newspapers have been the architects of their own destruction.
Good question. My local newsrags in New Jersey give the Liberal comfort. They pick them up to read Doonesbury, and other cartoons like that the one from that black racist titled "The Boondocks." It helps Liberals to believe there are other people out there who share their world views, hatred of President Bush / Republicans, and fantasies of secular utopia.
Moreover, the Liberals get to read and write "Letters to the Editor"--so they can spout off the daily talking points of the War on Terror being a conspiracy to make Haliburton rich and how homosexual sex and the idea for a cable station called "The Abortion Channel" is the key to happiness.
Back in the day, Hamilton and Jeffereson sponsored newspapers in which to wage their political battles. Journalism was politics then. Journalism is politics now. Journalism always will be politics.
The conceit that journalism is or might be objective is belied by the problem of "story selection." And that issue applies not only to the question of which new story is the lead and which other new stories are also included in the paper. There is a political tendency built into the assumption that what happened most recently is what is important. That is most obvious when the "news story" is a retrospective on the 33rd anniversary of Watergate.
Actually, newspapers must tell me something profitable that I don't already know.
It's very simple. Open your leftist ears and listen to the thunderous volume of people who have been telling you, for years, to do one of the two following things:
1. Stop your left wing biased reporting, or;
2. Stop pretending that you're objective and notify readers on page one of your publication that you have been, and always will be, a left wing biased newspaper.
You are the one who is losing your readership through your own actions.
Bottom line, stop whining, buck up, be a man.
Rpert Murdoch told these fossils that to survive, newspaper companies which find niches in smaller communities will do better, and going to tabloid size format is a great covenience over the traditional size paper, which really is an anachronistic pain in the a&&. My guess is that neither recommendation will be followed, anywhere. Not that I care, newsies are a bunch of arrogant mediocrities, imo, and deserve to have to go get honest work.
LOL... Well done.
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