‘Hardly the profile of a dying industry’
The fate of the North American newspaper is fused to the Internet. Seemingly everyone everywhere has finally admitted it. Yet we continue to produce what Paul Conley calls “silo students” who don’t read print media but want to make a career there and who don’t foresee their careers including online media.
Gary Pruitt, the man who bought Knight Ridder, wrote in The Wall Street Journal Thursday:
… we can get better at this: more transparent, better listeners, open to hear more voices. Of course we have to change, but changing is a fundamental part of our heritage, the result of a 400-year evolution …While it may seem counterintuitive to suppose that a company founded before the advent of electric lights would be a media leader in the age of blogs, podcasts and text messaging, that’s exactly what has happened. We certainly have competition from Google and others. But in each of the communities where we compete, almost every newspaper has the largest news staff, largest sales force, biggest audience and greatest share of advertising in its market. …
Biggest audience? That’s because he includes the Web audience, and we all know well that the Web audience is not bound to that one site when online.
Adding the unduplicated [he means people who don't read the print version] reach of newspaper Web sites to newspaper readership shows that … our audiences are growing steadily. … more people want our products today than wanted them yesterday; this is hardly the profile of a dying industry. But of course our products have changed as we have all been forced to adapt.Today’s daily newspaper is the engine driving a multimedia company that includes popular Web sites, foreign language publications, direct marketing initiatives and much more. Replacing the notion of “readers” with “audiences,” we’re fast becoming multi-platform, 24/7 news companies …
A week ago, The Washington Post announced it will cut 9 percent of its newsroom jobs.
At the same time, the paper wants its journalists to feed more to the newspaper’s other outlets, including its Web site, blogs, online chats, television appearances and its new radio news station …”We’re not anywhere near maximizing what we can do in our multimedia presentations,” [Post executive editor Len] Downie said. “We’re trying to have us all think in a different way, not that we’re newspaper people but journalists.”
It’s not as if The Post is the first big newspaper to cut staff numbers recently — but journalists (or, ahem, newspaper people) are worried:
“They want us to spend more and more time supporting these other platforms but they are all derivative of the reporting we’re doing for the paper,” said Rick Weiss, a science reporter at The Post … “If we don’t dredge up the news, we have nothing to pass on. But we have less and less time to do that dredging.”
Downie said it doesn’t take much time to “talk on the radio or do an early draft of your story for the Internet.”
If that’s what they’re calling “multimedia” at The Post these days, will they be long among the “media leaders”?
Remember how Pruitt said, “Today’s daily newspaper is the engine driving a multimedia company …”? Should you replace a 1000cc engine with a 750cc at the same time you’re adding on a lot of extra weight and accessories? Or planning, say, a long road trip?
There’s good news, though, from the researchers at the Project for Excellence in Journalism. For the first time in their annual project, they found that on some news Web sites, the depth of sourcing and content in some stories online may be “richer” than in any other medium — including national newspapers.
“Fully 85% of top stories on the Internet contained four or more sources, outstripping any other media …”
Technorati tags: online journalism | journalists | newspapers | business