And that’s coming from a Reporter who got a start at a community newspaper, and persists as a Web Editor for another. The industry struggles for more reasons than money.
Technology has leapt ahead of itself since I started in 2009. Reporters have gone from racing back to our newsrooms to write, and file to being able to do it all from our phones with a website, and login.
To be brutally honest technological advances have meant anyone with a computer/ phone, and email address can call themselves a journalist. It’s increased the pace, and pressure. You want to be first to break a story? Post it online. Suddenly breaking the story first, comes before being right.
Now try to force the traditional newspaper into that model, with its deadlines. It doesn’t happen that easy. The newspaper has to compete with instant news production. Flexibility is huge with the Internet. I can post something in writing, add a photo and a link to a video I just put up on a youtube channel. With newspapers you’re stuck with the conventional two photos (tops) plus a 3-400 word written piece.
Money is part of it. Printing costs a lot of money, and advertising revenues are drying up, or following them online. But the problem is how do you monetize websites? Some papers have experimented with paywalls. A few have been successful. With advertising online if you don’t get eyeballs on the stories , then the advertising investment doesn’t pay off. Advertisers go elsewhere.
It all adds up to a struggling industry. But should that mean government intervention? No for a couple of different reasons. The first is perception. If government starts giving money to privately-controlled newspapers it looks like government is controlling them. And the purpose of media is to ask questions, and as the saying goes: speak truth to power. Even the perception that something is owed is bad for democracy.
The other reason is creativity. Technology has been especially brutal on the newspaper industry. But there should be creativity to say “okay how do we use this to our own advantage?” There are so many things you can do here. I see the future as a weekly print edition with investigative pieces, and daily online news.
In the meantime let the fittest win, and stay out of this fight.