Are newspapers and MSM dead?

Interesting piece from Doc Searls: How to save newspapers.

I’m not sure I totally agree with the doom and gloom scenario for newspapers. While some of them are definitely in trouble, and the next generation of net users might very rarely pick up a newspaper, they still have a couple of things going for them.

The format of paper is more readable for most people. Maybe this will get solved eventually with electronic paper. Maybe not. The Ultra-Mobile PCs are here, but they’re ludicrously expensive for most people now — how much will electronic paper cost? A few people read newspaper electronically now while commuting, but we’ve had nearly ten years of portable devices that can do this, and it’s still not very popular. And nothing equals push technology like a paper landing on your lawn every morning.

The “River Of News” model may also rival paper’s readability; it makes the pattern of reading off-screen more like it is on paper, where people scan a page quickly and look more closely/read in full the article(s) that interest them.

Secondly, more importantly, professional media outlets are the ones that have money to pay for journalists to go out gathering stories. This is something no number of amateur unpaid bloggers can do. Well yeah the professional ones can… but then they’re turning into journos themselves, aren’t they?

Citizen journalists may be able to get the pics and details of stuff as it happens, by weight of numbers and being in the right place at the right time, but I think there’ll always be room for professionals to research, probe, and stick to things/people like limpets until a story is coaxed out. You’re not going to get unpaid bloggers hanging out at Parliament all week. Not if they want to eat.

To claim citizen journalism will completely take over from the MainStream Media (MSM) is like saying amateur productions on YouTube will completely take over from commercial movies and free-to-air/cable TV. They’ll win some share, because The People can produce some of what The Consumers, but most of us also hunger for content that can’t be produced without it being paid for (either directly through subscriptions or indirectly through advertising).

So long term, I think there’s room both for the citizen journalists and the MSM — particularly the MSM that knows how to use the web properly and can adapt to the challenge.

Douglas Karr says what’s dead is selling news. That I can agree with. Subscriptions, particularly for online content, must be getting close to their use-by date.

2 thoughts on “Are newspapers and MSM dead?

  1. Doug Karr

    Thanks for the reference and adding additional color to the discussion. One can only hope that Newspapers will listen rather than trying to cut budgets and squeeze every last penny out of an industry that is loved by many.


  2. Andrew

    Remember Charles Wright singing the praises of ebook hardware, or something like that, a few years ago? Didn’t really catch on. A portable newspaper reader would have to be pretty good, and cheap, before it could replace our already very portable newspapers that can be bought on every street corner and if desperate, found in rubbish bins.

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