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Newsprint [Mar. 18th, 2009|11:11 pm]
Yesterday, the Seattle PI printed its last daily edition. It exists now only as a news site on the web, employing only a fraction of its old reporting staff.

A while back, I'd said that I expected newspapers to vanish in the near future. I pegged it at five years, though that was a while ago and it's now about 4.5 remaining. To clarify, I'm thinking about daily printed newspapers, not coupon circulars and free ad gazettes.

It's an interesting battle between the archaic(?) machinery of distributing printed news versus the romanticism surrounding the product. The web is instant, two-way, and low-cost or free. Newspapers, though, represent entrenched journalism and standards that are not widespread on the web (yet). Will our need for established channels let them hang on in the face of superior technology? Will they adapt and evolve, as the Seattle P-I is doing, bringing their journalism ethic to the web and challenging other sites on their own terms?

I'm not anxious to see a demise of newspapers by any means but it's what I see in the cards. Perhaps I'm too cynical and quick to dismiss them... What do you think?

Poll #1367984 Print Newspapers

Most daily print newspapers will be gone...

even sooner!
within the next 4-5 years, yeah.
within the next 5-8 years.
within the next 8-15 years.
much later than you'd expect!

[User Picture]From: smack_jackal
2009-03-19 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think that big papers will fizzle out over time but I wouldn't peg a time-line to it exactly, it's hard to see what will happen with them during this down economy and increasing velocity toward digital content delivery.

The primary advantage that news papers have over both television and radio was that they could deliver a fairly large and diverse quantity of information to people much more quickly than either radio or television. You got a stack of informaiton in the morning and could sift through it quickly for the infomation most relavant to you; with radio and television you have to suffer through endless crap to get at the information that's critical to your interests and even then it's typically watered down.

With on-line delivery options, news consumers have access to a heap of information that they can sort through to find infromation most relavant to their interests. (wheter or not that information is of decent quality or not) The difference, though, is that they can pull from a an even wider range or sources at much cheaper (near to free) price for them. This shift makes paying for a phycially printed heap of paper pulp distinctly less attractive, it certainly does for me at least.

So the question is, how can a news paper make itself valid, vital and viable during this shift from print to digital delivery? Well, one of the aspects that I find missing is easy access to quality local reporting. Anybody can tap into one of the major news feeds (AP, Reuters, etc...) to get the condensed, stripped and TV-like summaries of the big stories but it's actually kind of hard to find good, quality local reporting or even halfway decent investigave reporting that digs past the surface gloss thrown out by the news wires.

I tend to beleive that if a news paper wants to continue to be successful they have to differntiate themselves from news agragators by providing original reporting content that is more geographically focused and more indepeth, quality reporting on the bigger issues than one typically gets glancing at news feeds. Basically, news papers need to drive eyes to their sites by getting back to what they're good at, quality local reporting. From there they can push upward to chip away at the bigger picture. It just requires that they invest in...oh...junior reporters, editors and local outreach. You know, exactly the items that they're cutting from their budgets.

They need to be able to drive local eyes to local advertisers with quality local reporting, IMHO.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2009-03-20 04:06 pm (UTC)
they have to differntiate themselves from news agragators by providing original reporting content that is more geographically focused and more indepeth, quality reporting

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. (And, according to their statements, this is similar to what Seattle PI is trying to do with their transition -- we'll see how the experiment goes.)

The same quality reporting can be carried through a different medium but there's still a need for those stories and investigative journalism.
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