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Old dudes facing a changing newspaper world
Knoxville News Sentinel ^ | 4/17/5 | JACK McELROY

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 editor@knews.com. This old dude needs help.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: genx; legacymedia; liberalmedia; newspapers
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Well, he did ask nicely.
1 posted on 04/16/2005 10:21:06 PM PDT by SmithL
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To: SmithL

ping


2 posted on 04/16/2005 10:23:29 PM PDT by warsaw44
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To: SmithL
So what's an old editor dude to do?

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.

3 posted on 04/16/2005 10:27:09 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: SmithL

The ASNE and the SPJ are one and the same. Let 'em rot.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/780879/posts


4 posted on 04/16/2005 10:30:35 PM PDT by JoJo Gunn (Help control the Leftist population. Have them spayed or neutered. )
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To: SmithL

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.


5 posted on 04/16/2005 10:31:31 PM PDT by SteveMcKing
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To: SmithL
Newspapers must function more as discussion leaders...

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.

6 posted on 04/16/2005 10:33:08 PM PDT by beckett
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To: SmithL

Hello, NY Slimes,
I would like to cancel my subscription. I was under the impression your paper was Horse porn because everyone kept referring to your to you as a horses a$$.
7 posted on 04/16/2005 10:42:44 PM PDT by TheForceOfOne
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To: SmithL

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?


8 posted on 04/16/2005 10:43:26 PM PDT by Nick Danger (You can stick a fork in the Mullahs... they're done)
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To: SmithL
Well, he did ask nicely.

Yes he did...and I'm working on a response. Reference bump.

9 posted on 04/16/2005 11:38:27 PM PDT by Bernard Marx (Don't make the mistake of interpreting my Civility as Servility)
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To: SmithL
I'm sure there was a lot of hand wringing at the horse and buggy convention too when those nasty horseless carriages began to be embraced by the public at large. But, what the heck do I know about obsolete technology? Anyone want to buy my Smith-Corona typewriter I used in college? It beeps every time you misspell a word.
10 posted on 04/16/2005 11:44:50 PM PDT by lil varmint
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To: SmithL
Cosmic justice.

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.

11 posted on 04/16/2005 11:53:58 PM PDT by NoControllingLegalAuthority
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To: Nick Danger
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?

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.


12 posted on 04/17/2005 4:12:50 AM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: beckett
No one asked them to lead. They were not elected to lead. They annointed themselves as "leaders of discussion."
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.


13 posted on 04/17/2005 5:38:38 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters but PR.)
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To: SmithL
"Well, he did ask nicely."

And I think we should be civil in return. He sounds genuinely confused So I suggest: How about turning your presses into plows. Digging up dirt is what you do best. It doesn't matter if its true or not. Its the smell of scandal that gets Inkies all worked up. Especially if it buries a conservative in the process. Keep on feeding the notion that the normal is abnormal and the abnormal is normal. Inkies love that in a newspaper. Keep ignoring the fact that 88% of the population is Christian oriented. You don't need to cater to that 88% to stay afloat. Inkies love a nice fringe to make things pretty. And last, keep on moving your attitude toward the "one world order" way of thinking. There is nothing worse than that boxed in feeling you get when you have to try and support and report on the community you are actually trying to serve. True Inkies will understand your frustration.
14 posted on 04/17/2005 6:08:22 AM PDT by whereasandsoforth (Stamp out liberals with the big boot of truth)
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To: SmithL
more and more consumers under age 35 are finding the traditional daily paper irrelevant to the lives.

Well the copy editors are bailing out anyway.

I work in newspapers (copy ed), and where I am now, the sense of futility is palpable. Nobody talks about anything but design, as if the colors, fonts and page packages are the only thing readers care about. As if readers view the paper from three feet away and never actually read the words.

Why do they do this? Because it's easy. It avoids the actual problem, which is that the newsroom is hopelessly out of touch and incapable of performing the "community journalism" it's always gushing about.

Most of our middle managers (well, not me ;-) ) live just to get away from real work altogether and attend their next design conference, or, ideally, get a full-time pontificating job at a place like the Poynter Institute, where they won't have to work at all.

Meanwhile the words of the paper consist of high-school level writing, wire copy that doesn't even know how outrageously biased it is, snotty leftist columnists snorting away, 1A "analysis" pieces trying to lie, spin and shape perceptions.

The old dudes are right to throw up their hands. Only I'm not an old dude. I'm 40. And it's the left that's to blame. They've effed up newspapers just like they've effed up publishing, art, Hollywood, schools, universities ...

Newspapers need conservative journalists more than anything. But they're all on the Web, it seems like ... End of Rant.
15 posted on 04/17/2005 6:42:33 AM PDT by hemogoblin (Tyranny's OK with liberals.)
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To: SmithL
Newspapers must function more as discussion leaders

Actually, newspapers must tell me something profitable that I don't already know.

16 posted on 04/17/2005 7:46:52 AM PDT by Milhous
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To: Nick Danger
what have they got left?

Classified ads.

17 posted on 04/17/2005 7:48:51 AM PDT by Milhous
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To: SmithL
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 editor@knews.com. This old dude needs help.

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.

18 posted on 04/17/2005 7:53:41 AM PDT by Col Freeper (Never argue with an idiot - - it's a useless activity and the leftist just enjoys it.)
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To: Nick Danger

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.


19 posted on 04/17/2005 7:58:32 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: TheForceOfOne

LOL... Well done.


20 posted on 04/17/2005 8:18:25 AM PDT by RJL
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